Israel navy intercepts activist boat trying to break Gaza blockade

By Afp

Israel’s navy on Sunday intercepted a Norwegian-flagged activist boat trying to break its more than decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip, the military and activists said.

“The activity ended without exceptional events,” a military statement said. “At this time the ship is being transferred to the port of Ashdod” along the coast of central Israel.

An activist group affiliated with the boat, the Al-Awda (The Return), said 22 people and a cargo of medical supplies were onboard.

A second boat that is part of the same group, the Swedish-flagged Freedom, is expected to arrive in the same area in the next couple days, according to the Freedom Flotilla Coalition.

Four boats left from Scandinavia in mid-May and stopped in some 28 ports along the way, the coalition said. Two boats remained behind after a recent stop in Palermo.

Shortly before the Al-Awda, a fishing boat, was intercepted, the coalition released a statement saying the Israeli navy was issuing warnings to it.

“The Israeli navy claims our ship is breaking international law and threatens that they will use ‘any measures necessary’ to stop us,” it said.

“In fact, the only ‘necessary measures’ would be to end the blockade of Gaza and restore freedom of movement for all Palestinians.”

Israel has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in Gaza since 2008 and says the blockade is necessary to keep them from obtaining weapons or materials that could be used for military purposes.

UN officials and rights activists have called for the blockade to be lifted, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian enclave of two million people run by Islamist movement Hamas.

From Wikipedia: The blockade of the Gaza Strip is the ongoing land, air, and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel and Egypt since 2007. One year after the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip by Israel, Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election, and Israel and the Quartet on the Middle East ceased providing aid to the Palestinian Authority and imposed sanctions against the PA, because Hamas would not agree to the conditions for continued aid: namely, the recognition of Israel, disavowal violent actions, and acceptance the previous agreements between Israel and the PA.

In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a unity government headed by Ismail Haniya. Shortly after, in June, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip during the Battle of Gaza.[2] Hamas seized government institutions and replaced Fatah and other government officials with Hamas members.[3] Following the takeover, Egypt and Israel largely closed their border crossings with Gaza, on the grounds that Fatah had fled the Strip and was no longer able to provide security on the Palestinian side.[4] Egypt was worried that Hamas control over Gaza would increase Iranian influence. Aboul Gheit explained that opening the Rafah border crossing would undermine the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority.[5]

Israel said that the blockade was necessary to protect Israeli citizens from “terrorism, rocket attacks and any other hostile activity” and to prevent dual use goods from entering Gaza.[6] In doing so it violated or failed to fulfil specific obligations it had committed to under the terms of various ceasefire agreements[7][8][9] on different occasions to alleviate or lift the blockade.[10] “Crossings were repeatedly shut and buffer zones were reinstated. Imports declined, exports were blocked, and fewer Gazans were given exit permits to Israel and the West Bank.”[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

The World Bank estimated in 2015 that the GDP losses caused by the blockade since 2007 was above 50%, and entailed large welfare losses. Gaza’s manufacturing sector, once significant, shrunk by as much as 60 percent in real terms, due to the wars in the past 20 years and the blockade. Gaza’s exports virtually disappeared since the imposition of the 2007 blockade. It stated that “solutions have to be found to enable faster inflow of construction materials into Gaza”, while taking into account “legitimate security concerns of neighboring countries.”

In May 2015, the World Bank reported that the Gaza economy was on the “verge of collapse”. 40% of Gaza’s population lived in poverty, even though around 80% received some sort of aid. It said the restrictions had to be eased to allow construction materials “to enter in sufficient quantities” and to allow exports. “The economy cannot survive without being connected to the outside world,” The World Bank said the tightened restrictions meant the construction sector’s output was reduced by 83%.

Throughout 2006, the Karni crossing remained only partially operational, costing Palestinians losses of $500,000 a day, as less than 10% of the Gaza Strip’s minimal daily export targets were achieved. Basic food commodities were severely depleted, bakeries closed and food rationing was introduced.

In 2016 most Palestinian parties welcomed Turkish initiatives to end the strict Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip by building a seaport for the movement of people and goods. This step was condemned by Fatah and the PA, a senior Fatah leader saying that his movement would not allow this to happen, while the Fatah Executive Committee said this was an Israeli trick to separate Gaza from the West Bank. In turn a Hamas official condemned the Palestinian Authority’s position; “This position proves that the PA is part of the Israeli-led siege which has been imposed on Gaza for ten years.”[33]

In 2017, the PA government imposed its own sanctions against Gaza, including, among other things, cutting off salaries to thousands of PA employees, as well as financial assistance to hundreds of families in the Gaza Strip. The PA initially said it would stop paying for the electricity and fuel that Israel supplies to the Gaza Strip, but later partially backtracked.

Freedom Flotilla II

Following the Gaza flotilla raid, a coalition of 22 NGOs assembled in July 2011 a flotilla of 10 vessels and 1,000 activists to breach the blockade.

The vessels docked in Greece in preparation for the journey to Gaza. However, the Greek government announced that it would not allow the vessels to leave for Gaza,[99] and the Hellenic Coast Guard stopped three vessels attempting to evade the travel ban and leave port. On 7 July, most activists left for home, leaving only a few dozen to continue the initiative.[100] On 16 July, the French yacht Dignite Al Karama was allowed to leave port after informing Greek authorities that its destination was Alexandria, Egypt. Instead, the yacht headed directly for Gaza. The Israeli Navy stopped the Dignite Al Karama about 65 kilometers off Gaza. After the boat was warned and refused to turn back, it was surrounded by three Israeli naval vessels and boarded by Shayetet 13 commandos, who took it over. The boat was then taken to Ashdod.[101] Ultimately, the Freedom Flotilla sailing did not take place.

Third Flotilla

On 4 November 2011, the Israeli Navy intercepted two vessels heading towards Gaza in a private initiative to break the blockade. Shayetet 13 commandos boarded the vessels from speedboats and took them over with no resistance. The vessels were then taken to Ashdod port.

Following the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état, Egypt’s military has destroyed most of the 1,200 tunnels which are used for smuggling food, weapons and other goods to Gaza.[153] After the August 2013 Rabaa Massacre in Egypt, the border crossing was closed ‘indefinitely’.

A UN OCHA 2015 report stated that “longstanding access restrictions imposed by Israel have undermined Gaza’s economy, resulting in high levels of unemployment, food insecurity and aid dependency,” and that “Israeli restrictions on the import of basic construction materials and equipment have significantly deteriorated the quality of basic services, and impede the reconstruction and repair of homes.”

The World Bank estimated in 2015 that the GDP losses caused by the blockade since 2007 was above 50%, and entailed large welfare losses. Gaza’s manufacturing sector, once significant, shrunk by as much as 60 percent in real terms, due to the wars in the past 20 years and the blockade. Gaza’s exports virtually disappeared since the imposition of the 2007 blockade. It stated that “solutions have to be found to enable faster inflow of construction materials into Gaza”, while taking into account “legitimate security concerns of neighboring countries.”

Between 2000 and 2018, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has documented 1,283 attacks on Palestinian fishermen, including 1,192 shooting incidents that led to the death of 8 fishermen and to the injury of 134 fishermen. During these assaults, 656 fishermen were detained, and 209 boats were confiscated.

On 1 December 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the electricity cuts were unlawful, and ordered the Israeli military to stop them by the following day. In its ruling, however, the court allowed Israel to continue reducing its diesel and gasoline shipments to Gaza.

The International Committee of the Red Cross  (ICRC) termed Israel’s blockade of Gaza “collective punishment” in violation of international humanitarian law. In 2010 it also called the blockade a violation of the Geneva Conventions and called for its lifting.

An Israeli government spokesman added in 2010 that the blockade is intended to bring about a political goal and that Israel “could not lift the embargo altogether as long as Hamas remains in control” of Gaza.[168]

Speaking in 2006, Dov Weisglass, an advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, allegedly said that, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”[197] Although this quote is widely reported, the original quote appears to have been: “It’s like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won’t die.”[198] Weisglass has denied this report.[199]

According to US diplomatic cables obtained by the WikiLeaks organization, diplomats stationed in the US embassy in Tel Aviv were briefed by Israelis on the blockade of the Gaza Strip. One of the cables states that “as part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed (…) on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge”

United States Although the United States officially supports the blockade,[204] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Israeli Minister of Defence Ehud Barak in February 2010 and urged him to ease the blockade.

In the September 2011 Palmer Report, the UN investigative committee for the 2010 Flotilla to Gaza said that the Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal under international law.[221][222] Later that same month, five independent U.N. rights experts reporting to the U.N. Human Rights Council rejected that conclusion, saying the blockade had subjected Palestinians in Gaza to collective punishment in “flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law.”

Human Rights Watch argues that Israel is still an occupying power and is responsible for Gaza under the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, which seeks to protect the civilian population.[57]

Amnesty International said that “The blockade constitutes collective punishment under international law and must be lifted immediately,” and that as the occupying power, Israel has a duty under international law to ensure the welfare of Gaza’s inhabitants, including their rights to health, education, food and adequate housing.

The Islamic Action Front (IAF), a Jordanian Islamist group, criticized Egypt for the blockade and accused it of “collaborating” with Israel and the United States. “The Egyptian authorities are …increasing the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza by building the steel wall and closing the border crossings with Gaza,” said Hamzah Mansour, a member of the Shura Council of the IAF.[240]

Gideon Rose of the Council on Foreign Relations has written that the blockade serves a secondary aim, which is to undermine Hamas by making life unpleasant for Gaza’s residents.

2018 New Measures Tightening Israeli Blockade of Gaza, More Abduction of Civilians in the West Bank

While brutal force has been used to create Zionist Israel and sustain it thus far, Zionist claims to Palestine are false. Actually, from the five thousand years of known written history, there has been a continuous Palestinian-Canaanite presence in the Holy Land. Despite the Zionist false claims, the ancient Israelites ruled part of the land for only 85 years (during the reign of David, Solomon, and Solomon’s son).

After that, the Egyptians conquered Palestine-Canaan in 925 BC, followed by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, before the Arab Muslim rule, starting from 636 AD.

By the Time Jesus started his mission, the three population groups of Canaanites, Palestinians, and Israelites were melted together in religion and language. Most of them became Christians when Constantine converted in 313 AD. Then, most of them became Muslims in the 7th and 8th centuries AD.

So, Palestinian Muslims, Christians, and Jews are the ones who have the right to claim descent from ancient Israelites, Palestinians, and Canaanites, not Zionists from other continents.

Tightening the Israeli blockade against Gaza

Earlier Monday, the Israeli occupation government Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and War Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided to increase pressure on the Gaza Strip in response to the fire kites and balloons sent from the enclave to neighboring Israeli settlements.

The new measures include reducing the fishing area from 9 to 6 nautical miles and closing Karem Abu Salem crossing, which means that nothing can be imported or exported into/out of the Gaza Strip. All that is to be permitted into Gaza is urgent humanitarian aid in certain cases.


PPS: “Israeli Occupation Soldiers Abduct Seventeen Palestinians In West Bank”

July 10, 2018 2:26 PM IMEMC News

The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli occupation soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, seventeen Palestinians from their homes, in several parts of the occupied West Bank.

The soldiers stormed and violently searched dozens of homes, across the West Bank, interrogated many Palestinians and abducted at least sixteen.

The army also installed many roadblocks, especially in and around Hebron, in southern West Bank, stopped and searched dozens of cars, and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.

Israeli Occupation Soldiers Abduct Six Palestinians In Jenin, Two In Qalqilia

July 10, 2018 1:53 PM IMEMC News

Israeli occupation soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, six Palestinians in the northern West Bank governorate of Jenin, and two in Qalqilia, also in northern West Bank, after invading and searching their homes.

The Jenin office of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said the soldiers invaded and ransacked many homes, interrogated several Palestinians in the city, in addition to Qabatia town, Sanour and al-‘Arqa village, and abducted six.

It said the soldiers abducted Hisham Omar Zakarna, from Qabatia, in addition to Laith Fuad and Tareq Ziad Gharbiyya, from Sanour village.

The soldiers also abducted two former political prisoners, identified as Mohammad Walid Jalamna and Ghassan Adnan al-Atrash, in Kharrouba neighborhood in Jenin city, in addition to Mahdi Hamad Abu al-Hasan, 24, from Marah Sa’ad neighborhood.

The soldiers also invaded the Eastern Neighborhood in Jenin, and the al-‘Arqa village, west of the city.

In related news, the soldiers invaded homes in Qalqilia city, in northern West Bank, and abducted Noureddin Ahmad Daoud, 30, and Nasr Talal Jayyousi.

Israeli Occupation Soldiers Abducts Two Palestinians, Injures One, In Hebron

July 10, 2018 12:38 PM IMEMC News

Israeli occupation soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, two young Palestinian men, and injured another, in the southern West Bank governorate of Hebron.

Media sources in Hebron city said dozens of soldiers invaded Jabal Abu Rumman and al-Hawouz areas, searched homes and abducted Saif Abu Amsha.

They added that the soldiers also shot Mohammad Ali Abu ‘Aisha, 24, with a live round in his leg, before he was rushed to a local hospital, suffering a moderate injury.

Furthermore, the soldiers invaded and violently searched several homes in the ath-Thaheriyya town, south of Hebron, abducted Sharhabeel Nassar al-Makahrza, and confiscated two cars owned by his family.

The soldiers also installed roadblocks closing the northern entrances of Hebron city, in addition to Halhoul and Sa’ir town, before stopping and searching dozens of cars while inspecting the ID cards of the passengers.

On Monday evening, the soldiers abducted a young Palestinian man, who remained unidentified at the time of this report, after stopping him at the Container military roadblock, north of Bethlehem.

The army claimed the Palestinian was not carrying any form of identification, and was “concealing a knife.”

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