News / Middle East

Israel Seizes Pro-Palestinian Activist Ship off Gaza

An Israeli military naval ship patrols inside the port of Ashdod, in the Mediterranean Sea, Israel, March 15, 2011.An Israeli military naval ship patrols inside the port of Ashdod, in the Mediterranean Sea, Israel, March 15, 2011.
x
An Israeli military naval ship patrols inside the port of Ashdod, in the Mediterranean Sea, Israel, March 15, 2011.
An Israeli military naval ship patrols inside the port of Ashdod, in the Mediterranean Sea, Israel, March 15, 2011.
Robert Berger

There was drama on the high seas Saturday as a ship challenged Israel’s naval blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. 

 

A Swedish owned ship, the Finnish-flagged Estelle, carrying 30 pro-Palestinian activists from eight countries tried to break Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza. But the vessel was intercepted by the Israeli Navy about 60 kilometers off the Gaza coast, and it was boarded by commandos. 

 

Victoria Strand is a Sweden-based spokeswoman for the ship. “They were boarded by masked and armed soldiers, and my thoughts about this is it’s an act of piracy because they are boarded on international waters and I find this a very violent action," she said. 

 

The Israeli military says the commandos who boarded the ship did not meet any resistance and no one was hurt. Army spokeswoman Avital Liebowitz said the boat was contacted by radio and asked to change course. 

 

“When they refused to do this several times, we had to board the vessel. The boarding was done peacefully; we offered food and drinks to the passengers," he said. 

 

Liebowitz says the blockade is necessary because Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group that frequently fires rockets and mortars across the border at Israel.

 

“So basically it’s a measure of defense. We can’t allow a situation in which strategic kinds of weapons reach terror organizations, such as Hamas in Gaza for instance, and then they’re used against our civilians," he said. 

 

The activists say their mission was peaceful and they were simply bringing civilian aid to the Palestinians, such as cement, basketballs and musical instruments. Strand, the spokeswoman for the ship, says Israel has no right to stop cargo like that.  

 

“We don’t consider the blockade as being legal, that’s number one, and secondly the blockade is very, very inhuman. The blockade is now in its sixth year and the siege must end," she said. 

 

The ship was towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod near Gaza, and Israel says the activists will be deported. 

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Marisa Blake from: USA
October 21, 2012 3:04 AM
Israel, just by being Israel - the bright light in a sea of repulsive Islamic Iranian and Arab desolation is performing one of the noblest services to humanity on record... by highlighting the genetic depravity of what we are compelled to call "peaceful religion" for reasons of political correctness... we are with you Israel, forever the shining city on the hill...

by: Bruce from: Tampa
October 20, 2012 6:04 PM
Maybe they can drag the boat thru the Desert and see if they can push it thru the blockaid on the Egyptian side

by: Seth_DeKooters from: Hartford, CT
October 20, 2012 4:36 PM
The isolation and terrorization of Gaza by Israel will forever indelibly stain the Jewish people.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More