‘Israeli piracy’ halts the all-female Freedom Flotilla attempting to break Gaza blockade

Palestinians sail boats bearing their national flag in the port of Gaza City in support of the Gaza-bound flotilla of international female activists attempting to break the Israeli blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on October 5, 2016. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

Palestinians sail boats bearing their national flag in the port of Gaza City in support of the Gaza-bound flotilla of international female activists attempting to break the Israeli blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on October 5, 2016

The Israeli navy has seized the Zaytouna-Oliva, a Gaza-bound aid ship, according to the initiative’s organizers and reports in the Israeli media.

Sondos Ferwana, a media spokeswoman for the International Coalition for the Fourth Freedom Flotilla, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday evening that Israeli naval forces had “captured the ship”.

When asked for comment by Anadolu Agency, the Israeli military declined to comment.

But according to reports on Israel’s Channel Two television station, Israeli naval vessels had assumedcontrol of the aid ship and were preparing to tow it to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

The aid ship was intercepted — without resistance — some 80 kilometers off Gaza’s coast, the broadcaster reported.

Ferwana described the incident as “another act of Israeli piracy”, adding that all contact with the ship — which is carrying humanitarian aid and several female activists — had been lost.

“We don’t know the fate of the activists aboard,” she told Anadolu Agency.

Those aboard the Zaytouna-Oliva, which set sail from the Spanish city of Barcelona last month, include Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, Swedish and Algerian lawmakers, a South African Olympic athlete and a Malaysian doctor.

The all-female initiative seeks to break Israel’s decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip and show solidarity with the women of Gaza.

In June of last year, Israeli forces intercepted the “Marianne” — which had been taking part in a similar initiative — and arrested all activists on board.

A similar Gaza-bound aid flotilla ended in tragedy in 2010 when the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish aid ship, was raided by Israeli commandos, killing 10 Turkish activists.

Since 2007, the Hamas-run Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli/Egyptian blockade that has deprived its almost two million inhabitants of most basic commodities, including food, fuel, medicine and desperately-needed building materials.

In June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the blockade of Gaza as “collective punishment”, which, he asserted, “suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts”.

(Source / 06.10.2016)

Tags: #ICC4Israel

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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