Friday, August 17, 2018

Aid ship to Gaza intercepted, and its crew expelled from Israel


By PM collaborators - October 12, 2016
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Gaza] [Gaza Blockade]

Israel deported a group of women activists on October 7, after their aid ship to Gaza, which was trying to break the Israeli blockade of the enclave, was intercepted and diverted to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
Speaking on October 7, an Israeli interior ministry spokesperson said that, “all the boat’s passengers have left Israel” except for a Norwegian national, who was deported soon after.
Aboard the Zaytouna were thirteen women from several different countries, including the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, from Northern Ireland.
The Algerian MP Samira Douaifia was also on the boat, as was Ann Wright, an American ex-colonel and critic of the Iraq War. The all-female mission was known as the 'Women’s Boat to Gaza.’
The Zaytouna was filled with humanitarian supplies. Many basic materials are in short supply in Gaza, following a decade-long Israeli blockade and three bloody wars between Hamas and the Israeli military.
Speaking to Palestine Monitor before the launch of the aid ship, Ellen Huttu Hansson, one of the activists on-board, explained that the aim of the mission was to “generate awareness and opposition against the illegal things Israel are doing” and to “successfully reach Gaza.”
35 nautical miles from the Gazan coast, however, the boat was stopped by the Israeli navy, allegedly to prevent “a breach of a lawful naval blockade.” The ship was still in international waters when it was intercepted.
The women were then detained and quickly deported. Indeed, according to the organisers of the mission, the speed with which Israel expelled the women is testament to “all the negative media attention Israel has been receiving for its illegal interception.”
Several so-called 'Freedom Flotillas’ have been send to relieve Gaza in recent years, though all were intercepted by Israel.
Although many aid convoys are dealt with peacefully, other similar journeys have ended in bloodshed. Israeli commandos killed ten Turkish activists after raiding an aid flotilla to Gaza in 2010. The attack led to a break-off in diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey, though they were re-established this year.
Israel started its blockade of Gaza in 2007, following the election of Hamas there in 2005. Israel maintains that the blockade is necessary for security reasons, pointing out that Hamas tries to smuggle military supplies into Gaza.

But critics allege that the blockade is a form of collective punishment, as it prevents the import of basic goods into the area, such as footballs and pasta. For its part, the UN claims that if the blockade continues, Gaza will become “uninhabitable” by 2020.

Photo credit : Rumbo a Gaza

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