News / Middle East

Israel Seizes 2 Vessels Trying to Run Gaza Blockade

In this video image released by the Israeli Defense Ministry on November 4, 2011, Israeli soldiers on several small military boats appear to board a civilian boat believed to be one of two protest boats trying to violate Israel's blockade of the Gaza Stri
In this video image released by the Israeli Defense Ministry on November 4, 2011, Israeli soldiers on several small military boats appear to board a civilian boat believed to be one of two protest boats trying to violate Israel's blockade of the Gaza Stri

The Israeli Navy has seized two pro-Palestinian activist ships in international waters, as they were trying to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Two boats carrying 27 pro-Palestinian activists tried to run Israel's blockade on Gaza, when they were intercepted by Israeli gunboats on the high seas about 80 miles from their destination.

Israeli commandos boarded the vessels and the activists from nine nations surrendered peacefully. The boats were taken to an Israeli port near Gaza and the passengers will be sent back to their home countries. The ships sailed from Turkey earlier this week.

Timeline: Gaza Blockade

  • June 2007: Hamas takes control of Gaza from the Fatah movement. Israel tightens restrictions on the flow of goods into the territory, citing concerns about Hamas militants gaining access to arms. Egypt seals its border crossing.

  • January 2008: Thousands of Palestinians stream into Egypt after Hamas militants blow up a section of the border.

  • May 2010: Israeli commandos storm a Turkish-led aid flotilla. Nine pro-Palestinian activists are killed.

  • June 2010: Israel eases its land blockade of Gaza in response to international outrage over deadly raid.

  • June 2010: Egypt temporarily opens its Rafah crossing to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.

  • May 2011: Egypt's new military rulers announce re-opening of Rafah crossing in effort to "end the divisions among Palestinians and finalize their national reconciliation." The decision, in general, allows Palestinians with passports to cross.

  • November 2011: Vessels carrying 27 pro-Palestinian activists sail from Turkey, face confrontation with Israeli navy ships

Activists say the Israeli blockade is illegal and immoral and amounts to the imprisonment of 1.4 million Palestinians in Gaza. Canadian David Heap, who was on board, said the message must get out despite the risks.

"The critical need for us is to keep challenging; and in all of that activity and all of that turmoil not forget that the Palestinians of Gaza are under blockade and don't have their freedom of movement," he said.

Israeli spokesman Yigal Palmor says Gaza is controlled by a Palestinian terror group, and therefore, the flotilla is an unnecessary provocation.

"The naval blockade is intended to prevent the terror organization Hamas from supplying itself with rockets and weapons. Any attempt to break that blockade is a cynical mockery of the plight of those innocent [Israeli] civilians who need to live with the horror of the rockets, day in-day out," he said.

The apparent end of the incident without violent confrontation is in sharp contrast to an Israeli commando raid on a Gaza aid flotilla last year in which nine Turkish activists were killed. The bloodshed sparked international outrage.

In Gaza City, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh urged the flotillas to keep coming. "Your message has been delivered whether you make it [to Gaza] or not," Haniyeh said. He added that "the siege is unjust and must end," he said.

Another Hamas official described the Israeli interception of the boats as an act of "piracy" but Israel remains resolute in enforcing the blockade.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs