Israeli Navy Hijacks 'Freedom Flotilla' Attempting to Break Gaza Blockade

The vessel Al-Awda, carrying 22 activists from around the world on a humanitarian mission to Gaza, is believed to have been seized by Israeli Defence Forces 48 nautical miles from the Palestinian city.

The Freedom Flotilla is a new flotilla made up of four ships, which intend on breaking Israel's almost 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israel's navy on Sunday intercepted a Norwegian-flagged activist boat trying to break its more than decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip, the military and activists said.

A second boat, that is part of the same group, the Swedish-flagged Freedom, is expected to arrive in the Gaza area in the next couple days, according to the Freedom Flotilla Coalition.

The group argued that the supplies the activists had with them were a "small but important contribution to the increasingly dire medical situation" in Gaza.

Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians during Friday protests at the Gaza-Israel border, the health ministry in Gaza said.

In Gaza, medics said a man and a 14-year-old boy were killed and dozens wounded by army fire, bringing to 154 the Palestinian death toll during demonstrations launched on March 30 to demand rights to land lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its founding. Two boats remained behind after a recent stop in Palermo.

"In fact, the only "necessary measures" would be to end the blockade of Gaza and restore freedom of movement for all Palestinians". The navy said it informed the passengers that they were "violating the legal naval blockade", and that if they had humanitarian aid to deliver, there were other ways to get it to Gaza.

Other attempts to run the Israeli blockade included a 2016 women's boat with 13 passengers including Nobel Peace Prize victor Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland.

The botched raid angered Turkey and saw it cut off ties with Israel until 2016.

Sunday's interception comes with tensions especially high between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

There has been violence between the Israeli army and Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip since late March in which at least 156 Palestinians have been killed.

Ghneimat went on to condemn "ongoing Israeli provocations at the mosque compound, including the storming of the site on Friday by Israeli police and their assault on Palestinian worshippers and employees of the [Jordan-run] Religious Endowments Authority".

  • Rogelio Becker