Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Human rights abuses continue as second ‘Freedom Flotilla’ is intercepted


By Myriam Purtscher - August 07, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Freedom Flotilla] [Gaza Blockade] [Israeli violence]

Israel has seized a Swedish aid ship attempting to breach the Gazan naval blockade and deliver much needed medical supplies to the besieged Palestinian Gaza Strip on Saturday. 

The ship was intercepted 40 nautical miles off the Gaza coastline and was taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod. The vessel carried 12 activists from Sweden, Germany, Britain, France and Canada who according to the Israeli Immigration Authority are currently in custody awaiting deportation.
 
The 'Freedom for Gaza Vessel’ was part of the four-vesseled Freedom Flotilla Coalition which left Denmark in May, aiming to bring attention to the 12-year naval blockade by Egypt and Israel on Gaza.
 
Spokesperson for the coalition, Dror Feiler said in a statement published by Al Jazeera,"we demand that the Israeli occupation forces not interfere with our unarmed yacht as we continue our voyage to Gaza to deliver our gift of much-needed medical supplies."
 
There are currently two million people living in Gaza who lack rudimentary access to food, electricity, healthcare and other basic services. According to the UN, conditions in the enclave are set to become "unlivable" within the next 18 months.
 

Violent interceptions
 
This is the second vessel in the coalition to be intercepted in the past week by Israeli forces. Norwegian flagged “Al-Awda”, or “The Return” in Arabic, was seized on July 29 also attempting to supply medical aid to Gaza.
 
Activists on board Al-Awda reported violence and threats by Israeli naval forces as they forcefully seized the ship in international waters.
 
In a personal testimony published by Middle East Monitor, Founding trustee of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) Dr Swee Ang who was on board the Al-Awda describes the violence treatment used against the unarmed activists.
 
Dr Swee Ang said the Israeli forces “were all armed with machine guns”, and beat some activists until they were semi-conscious. “They twisted the arms of the participants”, and were “throwing” others out of their way, tasering those they could not easily handle.
 
“They [Israeli forces] then approached the door of the wheel house and tasered Charlie the first mate and Mike Treen… who did not give way with being tasered in his lower limbs so he was tasered in his neck and face.”
 
In her statement, Dr Swee Ang also acknowledged the difference in treatment between international activists and that of Palestinians.
 
“If we were Palestinians, it would be much worse with physical assaults and probably loss of lives. The situation is therefore dire for the Palestinians.”
 
The foreign activists consisting of Australian, New Zealand, Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, French, British and Malaysian nationals were detained for several more days before being deported.
 
According to an Israeli military spokesperson, Al-Awda was taken over “with reasonable force while faced with resistance” from those on the boat. “There was no incident that qualifies as irregular in relation to previous incidents over the years,” the spokesperson added.
 
In 2010, nine Turkish nationals were killed when Israeli commandos stormed the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara as they tried to reach the Gazan enclave. 

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