Activists call Israel seizure of aid boat “piracy”
Mairead Maguire, Northern Ireland
Freedom Flotilla Coalition
Israel intercepts Women’s Boat to Gaza
Israel intercepts Women’s Boat to Gaza Nora Barrows-Friedman Rights and Accountability 5 October 2016 Israeli forces intercepted a boat carrying women solidarity activists as it was approximately 40 miles from Gaza’s shore on Wednesday. Israel said its navy escorted the vessel ashore and that the takeover was brief and “uneventful.” “The Israeli military said the navy carried out the raid ‘after exhausting all diplomatic channels,’” the Associated Press reported. “It said forces ordered the boat to change course, and when it refused, they boarded and searched it.” The single-vessel Women’s Boat to Gaza, which set out from Sicily last week, was carrying 13 women activists in a symbolic attempt to break Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. Its passengers included Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire and Ann Wright, a former US Army colonel and State Department official.
“Israeli piracy” Sondos Ferwana, a spokesperson for the activists, told a Turkish news agency that the capture of the boat was “another act of Israeli piracy.” The Women’s Boat to Gaza group released a pre-recorded video statement made in case the boat was intercepted. “If you’re listening to this, then you will know that myself and all the women who sailed on the Women’s Boat to Gaza have been arrested and are in detention in Israel,” Maguire says in the video, which can be viewed above. Maguire adds that Israel’s actions are “totally illegal.” The Women’s Boat to Gaza Twitter account published photos of solidarity protests in Spain as news of the boat’s capture reached activists:
Israeli Navy takes control of Zaytouna-Oliva flotilla
The Israel Navy took control of the Zaytouna-Oliva flotilla Wednesday which set sail from Barcelona in an attempt to breach the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Commenting on how the incident unfolded, an IDF official said, “the flotilla was stopped without resistance 35 miles from the Israeli coast. There were 13 women aboard and the boat is on its way to Ashdod and will arrive within an hour.”
”The process of taking control was short and resulted in no injuries. The response was implemented after many call to the sailors aboard the flotilla at various distances in the sea. After the sailors indicated that they had no intention to cooperate and to accept the offer to sail to Ashdod, the decision was taken to take control and to prevent it from breaching the legal naval blockade and to divert it to the Ashdod port,” the statement continued.
The boat was sponsored by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, a group of pro-Palestinian groups based mostly in Europe. The Dutch-flagged boat was carrying 13 female activists from different countries headed by Mairead Maguire, an Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate. A retired US colonel and former South African Olympic athlete were also on board, along with women from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Russia and Malaysia. Zaher Darwish, one of the coordinators of the flotilla, said the boat not carrying any aid and that the goal was purely “symbolic” — to call attention to the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza, which he called illegal.
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