« Iran Calls US Source of Global Terror | Main | Kate Middleton Sparks Pregnancy Rumors »

Israel Blocks Activist Ships from Entering Gaza

A Palestinian protester holds a replica of a boat during a weekly demonstration against Israeli settlement expansion, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on November 4, 2011, the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank. ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images(TEL AVIV) -- Two boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists were stopped by the Israeli Navy on Friday as they tried to sail to the Gaza Strip and break Israel’s naval blockade. The white motoryachts were boarded after a radio exchange, and were led to a port in Israel’s southern city of Ashdod. There were no reports of clashes or injuries.

“Following [the activists'] unwillingness to cooperate, and after ignoring calls to divert to the port of Ashdod, the decision was made to board the vessels and lead them there,” Israel’s military said in a statement.

The Canadian boat, the Tahrir, and the Irish boat, Saoirse, called their effort “Freedom Waves,” sailing from Turkey on Wednesday with 27 international activists, journalists and crew on board.

“Israel has caged Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, prohibiting physical contact between us,” Palestinian student Majd Kayyal said in a statement from the Tahrir on Wednesday. “We want to break the siege Israel has imposed on our people.”

Israel responded quickly, saying the navy would block the small flotilla’s attempts to break the blockade around Gaza. Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman Avital Liebovich accused the boats of provocation, even referring to them as “provocatilla” on Twitter.

In addition to the land blockade around Gaza that tightly controls the flow of goods and people, there has been a maritime blockade around Gaza since 2009. Israel argues it is necessary to prevent weapons from being smuggled into Gaza for Hamas and other militant Islamist groups; critics say the blockade violates human rights.

In early September, the United Nations published the Palmer Report, which said the maritime blockade is justifiable under international law.

Activists say they will continue to try to sail to Gaza in the near future “to send the world and public opinion the message that Gaza is still under siege,” Huwaida Arraf from the Free Gaza Movement’s told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. “The next boats will be launched in an organized manner, wave after wave, under the name Flotilla Waves of Freedom.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>

ABC News Radio