Israel intercepts Gaza-bound activist ship

Published 29.07.2018 16:13
Updated 29.07.2018 18:48
emAA Photo/em
AA Photo

A ship of activists trying to break Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip was stopped by the navy on Sunday and forced to reroute towards the Israeli city of Ashdod, said Adham Abu Selmeya from a Palestinian committee against the Israeli blockade.

An Israeli army spokeswoman in Tel Aviv said that the Israeli army does not comment on military operations.

According to organizers, the Al-Awda ship was carrying 22 people from 16 different countries and flying under a Norwegian flag. The one-time fishing boat was carrying medication for people in Gaza.

The Gaza-bound flotilla had set sail from Norway on May 15 under the slogan "Right to a Just Future for Palestine" as part of a campaign to break an 11-year Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.

Human rights groups have continually warned that living conditions for the coastal enclave's 2 million residents are unacceptable.

By the end of 2016, nearly two million Gazans were depending on international aid in order to survive while nearly half of the families in Gaza lacked access to secure food supplies, according to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Israel has blockaded Gaza for more than 10 years, with Egypt's aid. The measures are necessary for national security reasons, argues Israel.

Every year for eight years now, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has been launching a new campaign to challenge the Israeli siege on the Palestinian seaside enclave.

On May 31, 2010, Israeli soldiers stormed the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, resulting in the deaths of 10 Turkish activists and damaging ties. The ship was headed for Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid.

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