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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora