Israeli navy intercepts activist boat trying to break Gaza blockade

Israeli naval forces Sunday intercepted a boat with medical supplies attempting to break Israel's 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, said sources.

The "Freedom Flotilla" group said that the boat had been "seized" and that the ship had received a warning from the navy prior to the interception. "In the long term, the only solution is ending the blockade", it said.

"The deteriorating humanitarian condition in the Palestinian enclave in Gaza deserves immediate attention and preventing aid from reaching the Palestinians is against basic standards of human rights and social justice", she said in a Twitter post.

Two Israelis on board were quickly released."We have asked the Israeli authorities to clarify the circumstances around the seizure of the vessel and the legal basis for the intervention", the spokesman for the Norwegian foreign affairs ministry in Oslo said.

Unite expects Mike Treen to be deported back to New Zealand in the next week, although in 2010 the Freedom Flotilla was viciously attacked by Israeli commandos and ten activists were murdered, with "circumstances of the killing of at least six of the passengers were in a manner consistent with an extra-legal, arbitrary and summary execution" according to a United Nations report.

Gaza, a coastal sliver on the Mediterranean, is where Palestinian resistance movements enjoy massive public support.

It is under the "March of Return" banner that more than 100 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed in violent clashes with Israeli security forces along the border fence since March 30.

The two ships have taken about two months to reach the coast of Gaza, after setting sail from Scandinavia and stopping along the way at several port cities in Europe.

In total, Israel detained 20 Palestinians overnight in a widespread operation, the military said, including students from Hebron University who are members of the Hamas student group.

According to the Palestinian official WAFA news agency, the four apprehended men were station head Ala Rimawi, Sami Ulwan, Husni Injass and Qutaibah Hamdan, all of whom are freelance journalists, World News Israel reports.

By far, the biggest flotilla to sail for Gaza was in 2010, when six ships sailed for Gaza headed by the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-registered vessel.

Hamza Abu Shanab, another political observer and writer from Gaza, believes that the field behavior of both sides has become the main determinant in escalating or decreasing tension.

Critics say it is collective punishment of Gaza's two million people.

Israel says that Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, is using the protests as a cover for cross-border attacks.

  • Joey Payne