News Release

Israeli Siege of Gaza Halts Freedom Flotilla

AP is reporting: “Israel’s navy intercepted a Swedish vessel attempting to breach a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip early Monday and was redirecting it to an Israeli port, the military and the activists said.

“The military said that after exhausting all diplomatic efforts, the government ordered it to block the vessel. Israeli naval forces boarded the Marianne ship and searched it in international waters without needing to use any force, the military said.

“The ship was carrying about 20 activists, including Israeli Arab lawmaker Basel Ghattas and former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki. Three other ships that were part of the original flotilla reversed course before encountering the Israeli navy. …

“While Israel insists there is no siege, there are severe restrictions on Palestinian movement and trade, with virtually no exports. The international community, including the United Nations, has repeatedly called for an end to the blockade.”

Those on the Freedom Flotilla also include former State Department official Ann Wright; and Robert Lovelace, former chief of Ardoch Algonquin First Nation in Canada.

DAVID HEAP, david.heap at gmail.com, @GazaFFlotilla
Heap is with Canadian Boat to Gaza, one of the organizing groups. The Freedom Flotilla Coalition released a statement: “We have no reason to believe that Marianne’s capture was ‘uneventful,’ because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012, the people on board the Estelle were badly tasered and beaten with clubs. Back in 2010, ten passengers of Mavi Marmara were murdered by the IDF during a similar operation in international waters. … Israel’s repeated acts of state piracy in international waters are worrying signs that the occupation and blockade policy extends to the entire eastern Mediterranean. We demand that the Israeli government cease and desist the illegal detainment of peaceful civilians travelling in international waters in support of humanitarian aid.”

Heap is available for interviews and can facilitate interviews with Freedom Flotilla participants as they become available.

ROBERT NAIMAN, press at justforeignpolicy.org, Also via ANN IGHE, igheann at gmail.com, skype: ann.ighe
Naiman is with U.S. Boat to Gaza and Ighe is spokesperson for Ship to Gaza Sweden. Naiman is senior analyst with Just Foreign Policy. He was recently interviewed about the Freedom Flotilla along with Lovelace by The Real News.

Naiman recently wrote the piece “#FreedomFlotilla III Exposes Anti-Democratic Extremism of the Israeli ‘Center’,” which states:

“Who are the people that the ‘centrist’ Lapid called ‘a gang of terrorism supporters’ that Israel needs to ‘deal with’ as if it were ‘trying to disperse a violent protest’?

“Participants in the #FreedomFlotilla III include the former President of Tunisia, Moncef Marzouki; Israeli Knesset Member Basel Ghattas; Spanish Member of the European Parliament Ana Miranda; Jordanian Member of Parliament Yahya Abo Soud; and Moroccan Member of Parliament Abouzaid El Mokrie El Idrissi. …

“Retired IDF Major General Shlomo Gazit, who was head of IDF military intelligence, has called on the Netanyahu government to leave the flotilla alone. He wrote in Haaretz:

“‘The ship that is currently making its way toward Gaza…isn’t carrying military cargo. It is seeking to focus world attention on the blockade that Israel is imposing on the 1.8 million residents of the Gaza Strip…The world is accusing us of still maintaining Gaza under military occupation. We, in turn, are seeking to prove that we have withdrawn, but we haven’t disengaged. We continue to control everything going in and out, and that is a continuation of an occupation government.'”