Palestinian Media: Israel stops Freedom Flotilla

30 July, 2018, 03:32 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Palestinian protesters gather as tear gas canisters are launched by Israeli forces during a demonstration along the border between Israel and the Gaza strip. —AFP

"The Israeli Navy clarified to the ship's passengers that they are violating the legal naval blockade and that any humanitarian merchandise can be transferred to Gaza via Ashdod", the army statement read.

"The activity ended without exceptional events", a military statement said.

Zaher Birawi, head of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza, confirmed that the flotilla had crossed into Egyptian waters and was expected to reach Gaza's territorial waters on Sunday.

"In the last report received from the vessel, the commanding officer said four Israeli naval vessels were seen approaching". Two boats remained behind after a recent stop in the Italian town of Palermo.

Abu Salima added that 36 solidarity activists, including Israelis and Palestinians, from 15 various countries are onboard of the attacked ship.

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Pierre Stambul, co-president of the French Jewish Union for Peace, told AFP that one of the three vessels in the "Freedom Flotilla", called al-Awda in Arabic (the return), may arrive off Gaza shores as early as Sunday.

This time, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition said most of the activists were European, but also came from Malaysia, the U.S., and Israel.

"We know the boat was carrying around $50,000 worth of medical equipment", he added.

The blockade has faced criticism from various United Nations and humanitarian groups, which organizations like the Red Cross calling the blockade a type of "collective punishment" imposed on the Gazan people. Some have argued it is on the verge of collapse.

This is not the first time that a flotilla has traveled to Gaza in an effort to draw attention to the campaign to end the blockade.

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The rare raid, on a site that is an icon of Palestinians' statehood hopes and a frequent catalyst of their conflict with Israel, came as medics in Islamist-ruled Gaza said Israeli army gunfire killed a man taking part in weekly border protests.

It was only in 2008 when two boats carrying 40 people successfully managed to reach the coast of Gaza.

Egypt closely cooperates with Israel in maintaining the siege by keeping Rafah, Gaza's only land terminal that bypasses Israel, closed most of the time.

She was covering the clashes, when an IDF drone was spotted above the demonstrators, attacking them with tear gas.

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