Israel Seizes Aid Ship, Kidnaps Activists
The Israeli military has seized a ship trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza in international waters. On Tuesday, Israeli forces boarded the Free Gaza movement’s Spirit of Humanity and towed it to the Israeli port of Ashdod. The twenty-one activists on board have been reportedly denied attorneys and are set to be deported. The kidnapped passengers include former Congress member and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney and the Irish peace activist and Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire. Israeli spokesperson Mark Regev dismissed the boat’s humanitarian mission.
Mark Regev: “Israel every day is allowing humanitarian support to reach the people of Gaza—food stuffs, medicines, energy and so forth. This boat was not about that. This boat was about political activists who have been apologists for the Hamas regime, who have nothing whatsoever to say about Hamas’s brutal treatment of the people of Gaza.”
The sailing was the Free Gaza movement’s first since it aborted an attempt in January after the Israeli navy threatened to shoot the civilian passengers on board. That sailing had come just weeks after an Israeli navy vessel deliberately rammed another of its boats, almost forcing it to sink. Issam Younis of Gaza’s Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemned the kidnapping.
Issam Younis: “This would reveal the fact that Gaza is under occupation, Gaza is an occupied territory, and Israeli authorities are imposing an unprecedented siege over the Gaza Strip. It’s not only closing the borders and have this effective control over the movement for the individuals and goods, but this time the sea. They impose very severe restrictions on the movement at sea, so shipments that are on their way to Gaza full of humanitarian aid were not allowed.”