The Israeli military say their navy has detained a boat bound for Gaza, captained by a woman from Hobart carrying pro-Palestine women activists.
The group is calling for Israel to end its blockade of Gaza, which has been in place since 2007.
“At 15:58 (CEST) on October 5, we lost contact again with the Zaytouna-Oliva and presume that the Israeli Occupation Navy has surrounded it in International Waters … and has forced it off its course to Gaza,” the organisation said in an update on their website.
Hobart woman Madeleine Habib, the captain of the Zaytouna-Oliva flotilla, is one of 13 female pro-Palestinian campaigners who have been detained.
The Israeli military said the navy escorted the boat to Ashdod port early on Thursday.
The Women’s Boat To Gaza mission — coordinated by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition — described the incident as “kidnapping” on their Twitter page.
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition released an “in case of capture” video on YouTube shortly after the alleged kidnapping.
“If you’re seeing this video, it’s because I’ve been captured in international waters by Israeli forces,” said Ms Habib in the video.
“I urge you to contact the Australian Government, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and request my immediate release.”
The boat was en route to the Gaza Strip and was trying to break Israel’s naval blockade of the territory.
DFAT yet to confirm ‘kidnapping’
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is “seeking to confirm reports that an Australian woman has been detained by Israeli authorities”, a spokesperson said.
Greens Senator Scott Ludlam called on the Australian Government to appeal for the release of the women.
“I understand a NZ Greens MP was on board and an Australian citizen was actually the skipper,” he said.
“It’s an international crew, the boat was intercepted in international waters … so we’re calling on our Foreign Minister to urgently establish the safety and wellbeing of the crew of that vessel and they should be allowed to go on their way.
“The Australian Government must step up in support of these peaceful campaigners who have put their safety at risk to bring attention to the untenable situation on the Gaza strip.”
The New Zealand MP is Marama Davidson, who Prime Minister John Key says was advised not to go on the ship. He has described her detention as a “less than perfect look” for New Zealand.
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition said that other women on the Zaytouna-Oliva include 1976 Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire and retired US army colonel Ann Wright.
The Zaytouna-Oliva is part of the Women’s Boat to Gaza mission — one member of a coalition of pro-Palestinian groups mostly based in Europe.
The coalition has sent several aid boats bound for Gaza, but the last one successfully reached Gaza in 2008.
In 2010, Israel raided a Turkish-led flotilla bound for Gaza, killing 10 Turks.