Israel intercepts Gaza flotilla, 49 Palestinians injured

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
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At least 49 Palestinians were injured when the Israeli Navy targeted a 20-vessel flotilla that set out on Monday from the northern Gaza Strip in hopes of breaking the decade-long blockade of the coastal enclave. The people were wounded by gunfire and gas bombs, the Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement. Ten of the wounded have been transferred to hospitals for treatment, the ministry added.

Eye witnesses told Anadolu Agency (AA) the injured included Atiyyeh Hijazi, a journalist who works for Iran's Al-Alam television channel. Once the flotilla, the seventh of its kind, reached Gaza's maritime border, the Israeli Navy opened fire on it.

Similar attempts by activists to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza have been foiled before. The most serious such incident was the infamous Mavi Marmara incident on May 31, 2010, in which nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli forces in international waters while attempting to break the siege, and another Turkish activist died nearly four years later, succumbing to injuries sustained during the raid.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has suffered under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade that has gutted its economy and deprived its roughly 2 million inhabitants of many vital commodities, including food, fuel and medicine. In the long-embargoed area, the humanitarian situation continues to worsen day by day. The blockaded Palestinian enclave was heavily battered in July and August 2014 in a war between Israel and Hamas that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians and 73 people on the Israeli side. Its problems are exacerbated by a decade-old Israeli blockade. Since rallies along the security fence first kicked off on March 30, more than 130 Palestinian protesters have been killed and thousands more have been injured by Israeli Army gunfire.

Protesters demand the "right of return" to their homes and villages in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel. They also demand an end to Israel's 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal community's economy and deprived Gazans of basic necessities and commodities.

Compiled from wires

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