Al Jazeera – 2009-02-05 21:51:17
• Video: Isreal’s War on Gaza’s Fishermen
Weeks after Israel’s war on Gaza, the suffering of people in the strip has not ended. Israel still maintains a blockade, on land, in the air and at sea, and for fishermen in Gaza, making a living has become harder and more dangerous. Gaza fishermen face daily danger from Israeli gunboats that fire on their small boats to “intimidate” them. Under international law, Gaza’s fishers are permitted to cast their nets up to 30 kilometers from shore. But Israel’s Navy has placed a cordon around the small boats, sometime preventing them from sail out more than five kilometers from the coast. Al Jazeera’s Mike Kirsch reports.
Israel Expels Gaza Aid Ship Crew
(February 6, 2009) — Israel has expelled 10 activists and journalists after detaining them for hours and seizing their cargo ship that was trying to deliver aid to Gaza. Al Jazeera’s Salam Khoder, who was among the group, said she and some of the others on board were beaten by Israeli forces before being taken to a police station in Ashdod and interrogated.
Minutes after being escorted across the Israeli border to southern Lebanon on Friday, Khoder reported on her capture.
“At about 11pm last night… the Israeli ship intercepted the ship, fired at the ship and more than 30 soldiers came on to the boat and started beating the passengers,” she said. “They blinded our eyes, bounded our hands, kept us in uncomfortable conditions for one hour … they also told us not to communicate with each other in Arabic.” She said that the whereabouts of some of the 18 people who were on board the ship was unknown.
The Al-Ikhwa was carrying 60 tonnes of medical supplies, food, books and toys to Gaza, where a more than year-long Israeli blockade along with its devastating offensive last month have left residents struggling to get basic necessities.
Israel denied using violence in the operation and said it had warned the ship on Wednesday night against entering Gaza’s coastal waters.
The ship was carrying 60 tonnes of relief supplies bound for blockaded Gaza [AFP]
“During today’s [Thursday] morning hours, the cargo ship changed its bearing, and began heading towards the Gaza Strip … disregarding all warnings made,” the Israeli military said. The Al-Ikhwa, which originally set sail from Cyprus, left the Lebanese port city of Tripoli on Tuesday.
Maan Bashour, an aid co-ordinator for the group End the Blockade of Gaza, told Al Jazeera that the ship “was searched in Cyprus and in Lebanon. And we were very eager to let it be searched by Lebanese and Cypriot authorities in order that there be no reason for the Israelis to prevent it from going to Gaza.”
Israel increased naval patrols off the coast of the Gaza Strip in December when it launched a 22-day air, naval and ground assault that left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead. Foud Siniora, Lebanon’s prime minister, condemned the attack on Al-Ikhwa, emphasising that it was on a humanitarian mission to Gaza. “It is no surprise for Israel to perpetrate such an action as it has been accustomed to ignoring all international resolutions and values,” he said in Beirut.
Yahya Mahmassani, the Arab League’s envoy to the United Nations, said he had asked the staff of Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, to intervene in the matter. “I demanded that the ship be released immediately,” Mahmassani said. “The world community should condemn this act of piracy. We consider this an act of piracy committed by Israel.”
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