Conflict & Justice

Israeli navy stops boats headed to Gaza


A picture shows the port in Gaza City on November 4, 2011 as pro-Palestinian activists on two foreign aid ships heading to the blockaded Gaza Strip were preparing to be boarded after the Israeli navy made radio contact with them.


Mohamed Abed

The Israeli Navy has stopped and boarded two protest boats headed to Gaza, trying to break Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory, the Associated Press reported.

The Canadian and Irish boats left Turkey on Wednesday with medical supplies and 27 activists from the United States and eight other countries, the BBC reported. But the navy stopped the operation when the boats were about 50 nautical miles from the shore when the Israeli navy contacted them and told them to turn around, the AP reported.

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The navy said they stopped the boats since they were "attempting to break the maritime security blockade that is in place in accordance with international law,” BBC reported. The military will tow the boats back to Ashdod, the Israeli port.

Still the altercation was peaceful and the navy reported no injuries. Israel told the activists they were allowed to send the aid, which was $30,000 in medical aid, over land. But the occupants of the boats refused, the Irish Times reported.

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A spokesman for the Israel Embassy in Dublin said the mission was a “provocative publicity stunt that serves no practical purpose,” the Irish Times reported. The organizers said this latest attempt to get to Gaza was part of a campaign called “Freedom Waves.”

Israel’s land blockade on Gaza was imposed in 2006.