[News] Israeli forces seize Gaza aid ship

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Feb 5 14:15:39 EST 2009

<http://english.aljazeera.net/>News Middle East
Israeli forces seize Gaza aid ship

The Israeli navy has captured and diverted a ship from Lebanon 
carrying more than 60 tonnes of aid to the Gaza Strip.

Al Jazeera's correspondent aboard the Al-Ikhwa (The Brotherhood) ship 
said the navy first opened fire, then five Israeli soldiers boarded 
the ship, beating and threatening the passengers.

"They are pointing guns against us - they are kicking us and beating 
us. They are threatening our lives," Al Jazeera's Salam Khoder said.

Communications with the ship broke off shortly thereafter.

According to the owner of the vessel, the Israelis destroyed its 
communication equipment and confiscated the phones of those on board.

The Israeli military told Al Jazeera it had captured the Lebanese 
vessel and taken it to Ashdod, where authorities were examining its 
cargo. The passengers and crew, meanwhile, were being questioned by police.

Warnings 'disregarded'

In a statement, the Israeli military said it had warned the ship on 
Wednesday night against entering Gaza's coastal waters.

"During today's morning hours, the cargo ship changed its bearing, 
and began heading towards the Gaza Strip .... disregarding all 
warnings made," it said.

Maan Bashour, an aid co-ordinator for the group End the Blockade of 
Gaza, said the ship was carrying medical equipment, food supplies and 
books, toys and milk for small children.

"This ship was searched in Cyprus and in Lebanon," Bashour told Al 
Jazeera in Beirut, Lebanon. "And we were very eager to let it be 
searched by Lebanese and Cypriot authorities in order that there be 
no reason for the Israelis to prevent it from going to Gaza."

Foud Siniora, Lebanon's president, condemned the attack on Al-Ikhwa, 
emphasising that it was on a humanitarian mission to Gaza.

"It is no surprise for Israel to perpetrate such an action as it has 
been accustomed to ignoring all international resolutions and 
values," he said during a speech in Beirut.

"I made a number of necessary phone calls with international parties 
in order to exert pressures on Israel which is violating laws. I hold 
Israel responsible for the safety of the ship and passengers. "

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