News / Middle East

Israeli Navy on Alert as Swedish Aid Ship Steams Toward Gaza

A general view of the Gaza Seaport, March 30, 2011
A general view of the Gaza Seaport, March 30, 2011
Robert Berger
A high-seas showdown may be taking shape off the coast of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which is patrolled by the Israeli Navy as a Swedish ship is bent on breaking an Israeli blockade.

A Swedish ship carrying 17 pro-Palestinian activists from eight countries is sailing to Gaza and plans to attempt a run against Israel’s naval blockade as early as this weekend.

“My hope is that the world will see that this siege is unfair and counterproductive," said the vessel’s spokeswoman Victoria Strand.

Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent weapons from reaching the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules the Palestinian territory of the the Gaza Strip. Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel, frequently fires rockets and mortars across the border at Israeli communities.

Israel says the ship's voyage is a provocation.

“You know these people call themselves human rights activists, but they’ve got absolutely nothing whatsoever to say about the ongoing attacks on Israeli civilians by terrorists. They’ve got also, not surprisingly, nothing to say about Hamas’s brutal regime in Gaza,” said the government spokesman Mark Regev.

More than two years ago, Israeli naval commandos intercepted an aid flotilla bound for Gaza and nine Turkish activists were killed in the incident, sparking international outrage. Israel has since stopped other sea-going attempts to deliver aid to Gaza without violence. 

Strand says the activists on her ship don’t want any trouble and are simply bringing civilian aid to the Palestinians, from cement to basketballs to musical instruments.

“This action comes from people to people, from me as a human being as a mother, as a grandmother, to other mothers and grandmothers that have children and grandchildren. And I think they have the same right to live in a normal way as I have,” she said.

Israel says the blockade is a legal measure to thwart terrorism, and if the ship sails to Gaza it will be intercepted.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid