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The sun sets over Gaza City
The sun sets over Gaza City

All-woman ship heads from Lebanon to Gaza

An all-female, multi-faith crew of nuns, doctors, lawyers and journalists will sail to Gaza with humanitarian aid this weekend.
Aug 6th 2010, 9:14 PM 264 0

THE SAINT MARIAM will set sail from the Lebanese port of Tripoli to Gaza this weekend, carrying with it humanitarian aid – and an all-female crew.

At least one of the women due to be on board is known to be pregnant.

The women have said that their intention is to relieve the suffering of the people of Gaza, not to provoke the Israeli authorities. One woman told the Guardian: “We will not even bring cooking knives”.

The Mariam was due to set off a number of weeks ago – along with another ship, the Naji Alali – but diplomatic pressure from Israel has been applied to the Lebanese government to stop the mission.

Israel is concerned that ships entering the Palestinian port of Gaza will bring material that can be used as weapons, and so has blocked the port for several years. It demands that all aid being brought for Gaza be processed through Israel first, to prevent Hezbollah attacking the Jewish state.

Gabriela Shalev, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, has warned that Israel will use “necessary measures” – in line with international law – to stop the ship from reaching Gaza.

The co-ordinator of the voyage, Samar al-Haj, said the group had been flooded with volunteers to join the mission. At least 10 American citizens will be on board the Mariam.

One of the women on board, Serena Shim, is heavily pregnant. She told the Guardian that she had decided to be a part of the mission because she believed that blockade of Gaza is wrong. She said: “These people need aid.”

A similar move to bring aid to Gaza in May ended in tragedy. Nine Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli forces stormed their ship, the Mavi Marmara.

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Jennifer Wade


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