Israel intercepts ship trying to break Gaza blockade

Wednesday, 01 Aug, 2018

Gaza's National Committee for Breaking the Siege called upon the residents of Gaza to participate in the official welcoming reception of the Freedom Flotilla ship, which was to take place at noon at the fishermen's port in Gaza City.

According to activists, they tried to deliver to Gaza strip medicines, but also urged their governments to demand that Israel lift the blockade.

The attempt was the latest in a decade-long series of attempts by pro-Palestinian activists to break the naval blockade. It has led to a catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Two Israelis on board were quickly released."We have asked the Israeli authorities to clarify the circumstances around the seizure of the vessel and the legal basis for the intervention", the spokesman for the Norwegian foreign affairs ministry in Oslo said.

The first boat named Al-Awda ('The Return') with 22 people on board arrived in Gaza Sunday on afternoon carrying humanitarian aid and medical supplies to the Palestinians in the blockaded enclave.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said that as such the blockade of Gaza should come to an end and the freedom of movement for all Palestinians must be restored.

A military statement said "the activity ended without exceptional events".

Al Jazeera reported that Israeli naval ships had surrounded the flotilla and communications had been cut.

During last four years of the Flotilla campaign, most boats have been stopped by the Israeli Navy several miles away from Gaza coast and then towed to the Ashdod Port, where activists are detained, questioned and then deported from Israel. "So much for freedom and democracy in Israel". Two boats remained behind after a recent stop in Palermo.

The blockade has pushed Gaza's two million people deeper into poverty with unprecedented unemployment rates. At least 136 Palestinians have been killed and thousands of others were injured by Israeli fire since the protest started.

By far, the biggest flotilla to sail for Gaza was in 2010, when six ships sailed for Gaza headed by the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-registered vessel.

Mr Treen was part of a flotilla that was stopped near Gaza in worldwide waters.

Palestinians want to establish a state in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories that Israel took control of in the 1967 Middle East war.