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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Activist returns after Israelis intercept boat
2016-10-07

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Lesbian South African activist Leigh Ann Naidoo is set to land on home soil after Israeli authorities detained her and other female activists who traveled on the Women's Boat to Gaza, which sought to peacefully end the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Musa Marawu, of the South African embassy in Tel Aviv, told the Mail & Guardian Oct. 6 that the embassy secured Naidoo's return to South Africa after liaising with contacts in the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs.

Israel's navy intercepted a boat full of female activists who were seeking to break the country's decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip.

In an Oct. 5 statement, the navy said it "redirected" the sailboat in order to prevent a "breach of the lawful maritime blockade" of the Palestinian enclave. The action was completed "in accordance with government directives and after exhausting all diplomatic channels."

Thirteen women—including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire and Naidoo, a South African Olympian and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of the Witwatersrand—were travelling aboard the Zaytouna-Oliva sailboat in the Mediterranean toward Gaza, which Hamas runs. The boat is part of a coalition of pro-Palestinian boats that sail to Gaza in an attempt to break the blockade.

All 13 women were slated to be released. Naidoo was expected to depart from Tel Aviv and arrive in Johannesburg on Oct. 7.


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