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Seven days on the Women’s flotilla to Gaza

Join reporter Yudit Ilany as she spends a week with the Women’s Flotilla to Gaza, while it makes port calls in southern Europe, and ultimately attempts to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza.

For eight years now, international activists have attempted to symbolically break Israel’s decade-long blockade on the Gaza Strip. In 2008, the Israeli Navy let two sets of boats through. Two years later, Israeli commandos killed 10 activists on the ‘Mavi Marmara.’

Every year since, activists have attempted new flotillas, all of which have been stopped by Israel. This year, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition is sending a ‘Women’s Boat to Gaza,’ a flotilla of two boats named Amal-Hope and Zaytouna-Oliva. Israel Social TV reporter Yudit Ilany is sailing on the Zaytouna-Oliva. This is her travelogue from the first week.

We have edited the Yudit’s diary for length. The full multimedia series can be found on Social TV’s Facebook page.

Day 1 —Barcelona

It’s hot and humid. The sun is scorching but it’s easy to forget, as Barcelona is amazing. Not because it is a gorgeous city (well, that too) but first and foremost because of the city’s inspiring group of activists. People who give you hope not only with their words, but with their actions and dedication. And their friendliness.

The festival surrounding the launching of the flotilla, with its artists, musicians and performers, is a happy noisy mix of art, ideology and knowing how to live. The public is a fantastic mixture of locals of all kinds and creeds as well as random tourists, many of them visiting the city during the Eid al-Adha holiday.

And then there are the others, living in Barcelona after having travelled a less easy route: Muhammad, a young refugee born in Yarmoukh Camp in Syria, whose grandparents were born in Yaffa and lived in the Manshiye neighborhood, and his girlfriend from Aleppo, whose roots go back to Nazareth. Or Dr. Muhammad, a medical specialist working at a local hospital whose parents also came from Manshiye (Yaffa).

There is a fairly substantial Palestinian community in Barcelona that extends its hands to the refugees, in cooperation with many other groups of activists; One group specializes in finding good squats for refugees. They know where to look, how to go about it and are successful at what they are doing. Problem solved. They volunteer. The festival has been organized by volunteers, with incredible care, dedication and professionalism.

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WATCH: Jewish American explains why she’s on latest flotilla to Gaza

For eight years now, international activists have attempted to symbolically break Israel’s decade-long blockade on the Gaza Strip. In 2008, the Israeli Navy let two sets of boats through. Two years later, Israeli commandos killed 10 activists on the ‘Mavi Marmara.’

Every year since, activists have attempted new flotillas, all of which have been stopped by Israel. This year, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition is sending a ‘Women’s Boat to Gaza,’ a flotilla of two boats named ‘Amal-Hope’ and ‘Zaytouna-Oliva.’ We spoke to one of the participants before the flotilla left its first port in Barcelona this week.

More on the Gaza blockade:
Two years after Gaza war, not a single war crime indictment
Why won’t Israel allow GoPros and model airplanes into Gaza?

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WATCH: Far from the public eye, Palestinian villages are being dried out

Qarawat Bani Hassan, a Palestinian village in the West Bank water shortage since Israel’s national water company decided to reduce its supply. This past July, Israeli activists visited the village and heard first-hand how the residents cope.

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WATCH: Activists show solidarity with parched Bedouin village

Israel’s National Water Company, Mekorot, supplies water to Israeli settlements in Area C of the West Bank while Palestinians are denied access to wells and pipes that run through their land. Watch Israeli and international activists show solidarity with Bedouin living on the edge of the village of Fasayil in the Jordan Valley.

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WATCH: Why Ethiopian Israelis are taking to the streets

Hundreds of Israelis of Ethiopian descent took to the streets earlier this month to protest police brutality targeting black Israelis, but also police violence in general. One of the major symbols of the movement is an Ethiopian Israeli man named Yosef Salamsa, who’s death many in the community directly tie to the police violence and abuse to which he was subject. Here is their story.

Read more here about the struggle against police violence in Israel.

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WATCH: What Israelis think about cutting off water to Palestinians

Since the beginning of June, Israeli authorities have reduced the water supply to various Palestinian communities in the West Bank. The shortage has led to hardships in private homes, in industry, agriculture and livestock cultivation. So what would regular Israelis do if they had only a limited supply of water?

Read more:
A West Bank water crisis for Palestinians only
Palestinians in East Jerusalem go 10 months without water
WATCH: Palestinian village suffers from ongoing water shortage




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Israelis who live along Gaza border: Stop the next war

Israelis who live along Gaza border suffer more than anybody in Israel whenever war breaks out. A group of local residents recently marched on the Erez military crossing into the Strip, demanding that leaders from Israel, Hamas, and the world, find a solution to the violence and hope for a normal life.

Read more:
Palestinian groups present ‘war crimes’ evidence to the ICC
The casualties of the next Gaza war



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WATCH: What life looks like in an unrecognized Bedouin village

Approximately 90,000 Bedouin live in “unrecognized villages” spread across Israel’s Negev Desert. Because the Israeli government refuses to recognize them, they receive no municipal services, such as connection to the electrical grid, water mains or trash pickup, and are constantly at risk of demolition. Maryam Tarabin, the head of Umm al-Hiran‘s Women’s Committee, speaks about the discrimination facing Israel’s Bedouin population on a daily basis.

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WATCH: The militarism of Israel's youth movements

While youth groups in Israel often focus on ideals such as public service, working together, and protecting the environment, they also serve as conduits for military service. An inside look at the built-in militarism of Israel’s youth movements, from all sides of the political spectrum. 

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WATCH: How one West Bank village is fighting to regain its land

Residents of the village of Deir Istiya, located next to the West Bank settlement Ariel, have been nonviolently protesting the blocking off access to their farmland by the Israeli army, which affects the lives of 500 families.

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WATCH: A chat with the settler on the street

What do the residents of Kedumim, a West Bank settlement, think about their Palestinian neighbors? And about the chances of peace? And about the future of their community? Social TV inquires. 

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WATCH: Overdue recognition for Mizrahi poets

For decades, the poetry, literature and culture of Mizrahi Jews, those who came from Arab and Middle Eastern countries, was excluded from and marginalized in the Israeli mainstream and educational curriculum. That is beginning to change, and there exists a unique opportunity to correct the course.

Read more:
The roots of anti-Mizrahi racism in Israel
Riches to rags to virtual riches: When Mizrahi artists said ‘no’ to Israel’s pioneer culture
It is time to rebuild ties between Mizrahim and the Arab world




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WATCH: Ethiopian-Israeli mothers join protests against police brutality

Israelis of Ethiopian descent have taken to the streets several times over the past year to demand an end to police discrimination and brutality against their community. Now, a group of mothers is leading a new movement against the violence and discrimination police use against their sons.

Read more:
A long time coming: Why Ethiopian-Israelis are protesting
Ethiopian-Israelis’ protest against police violence is met with police violence



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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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