Foreigners prepare Gazans ‘provocation’ against Israeli blockade


Gazans will attempt to operate their boats beyond the Israeli limit of 3 miles off  shore.

“We’ve moved away from sailing into Gaza with aid. We now focus on sailing trade out,” says a foreign organizer.

By Israel Hayom Staff



A pro-Palestinian group says its activists will soon stage a provocation aimed at ending the Israeli naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. But unlike past attempts in which activists tried to enter the Gaza Strip from international waters, this time activists will try to draw attention to the Palestinian cause by defying Israeli restrictions which prevent Gazans from fishing more than 3 nautical miles off the Gazan shore.

Palestinian fishing boats on the shore of the Gaza Strip – Photo: AP

According to the organizers of the Gaza’s Ark Flotilla Freedom Coalition, local and foreign activists will attempt to defy Israeli restrictions by fishing beyond the 3 nautical mile limit, using a special Gazan fishing boat refurbished for the event.

“Gaza’s Ark is the evolution of the flotilla movement. We’ve moved away from sailing into Gaza with aid. We now focus on sailing trade out, because it’s quite clear that if the Palestinians were able to trade, their dependence on aid would be diminished quite significantly,” Michael Coleman, a member of Free Gaza Australia and the steering committee for Gaza’s Ark, told Inter Press Service on Wednesday.

“The sailing will be with a mixed crew of Palestinians and internationals,” David Heap, a Gaza’s Ark spokesman in Canada and Europe, told IPS. It was unclear when the event would take place. IPS reported that the organizers would like to have aboard the boat goods from local farmers and other potential exporters who are denied the chance to sell their products because of the Israeli blockade and other restrictions.

Israel imposed a naval blockade over the Gaza Strip after the area was taken over by the Islamist terrorist group Hamas in 2007 (although it officially announced the measure only in 2009). Israel says it is acting in self-defense to prevent Hamas from acquiring weapons, but some pro-Palestinian groups say the blockade infringes on the Palestinians’ freedom and is a violation of international law.

In 2010, the Turkish IHH group organized a large flotilla to breach the Israeli blockade. After refusing Israeli orders to dock at Ashdod for inspection, Israeli naval commandos intercepted the flotilla and boarded the Mavi Marmara. In the ensuing clash, nine Turkish nationals were killed, triggering a diplomatic crisis between Israel and Turkey that only recently subsided, when Israel apologized for what it called “operational mistakes.”

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