Mon, Oct 22, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Israelis take over Gaza-bound humanitarian ship

‘PIRACY’:Hamas denounced Israel’s actions, calling them piracy and a crime against humanity, while Israel’s prime minister said the activists tried to blacken Israel’s name

AFP, ASHDOD, Israel

If Israel insisted on enforcing its blockade, it had an obligation to “allow free movement of people and goods via the land crossings, subject only to individual security checks.”

Ahead of the ship’s arrival in Ashdod, a group of 20 Israeli peace activists gathered on a nearby beach. They held up signs in English and Hebrew reading: “End the siege of Gaza” and “Blockade = war crime.”

“We oppose Israeli policy, which seeks to maintain its control through siege and closure, strangulating the Palestinian people,” a coalition of Israeli rights groups said.

They included the Coalition of Women for Peace, Yesh Gvul and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.

Activists organized a major attempt to break the Israeli blockade in May 2010, when six ships led by the Mavi Marmara tried to reach Gaza.

Israeli troops stormed the Marmara, killing nine Turkish activists and sparking a diplomatic crisis with Ankara.

Israel has stopped several subsequent attempts to reach Gaza by boat, but there has been no repeat of the bloodshed.

Israel says its blockade is necessary to prevent weapons from entering the coastal territory, which is run by the Islamist Hamas movement.

Last year, a UN report on the 2010 raid accused Israel of having acted with “excessive force,” but found that its naval blockade of Gaza was legal.

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