The four-vessel flotilla was part of the Freedom Flotilla III carrying worldwide pro-Palestinian activists, including Arab Israeli lawmaker Basel Ghattas, Tunisia’s ex- president Moncef Marzouki and a European lawmaker.
Native Affairs reporter Ruwani Perera and cameraman Jacob Bryant were on the Marianne, which was detained by the Israeli Defence Forces while trying to break through the Gaza blockade.
The flotilla is the latest in a series of protest voyages against Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commended the sailors and commanders of the Navy for their “determined and efficient action in detaining the passengers on the ship that tried to reach the Gaza coast in contravention of the law“.
Israel Television said the Marianne would not be brought into Ashdod port until after dark to foil the activists’ intention to achieve maximum publicity.
David Heap, spokesperson for the global Freedom Flotilla Coalition, told Common Dreams that supporters lost contact with the ship-the Marianne of Gothenburg-at approximately 5:00 AM Gaza time when it was roughly 100 nautical miles from the strip.
In total, 47 passengers from 17 countries were aboard the boats, which carried medicines, solar panels and above all a strong message of solidarity for the 1.8 million Palestinians still besieged in Gaza one year after Israel began its 51-day destructive assault that killed more than 2,200 people. “Most of Marianne crew now in Givon prison, Israel”, it tweeted Tuesday.
The Freedom Flotilla group posted a photo on Twitter apparently showing a group of its activists onboard a ship.
Three other boats – Rachel, Vittorio and Juliano II – that also made up the flotilla have headed back to their ports of origin. “But Mr Netanyahu dismissed the organiser’s goals”.
Earlier Monday he wrote a letter, presumably to those aboard the boat but also released to the news media, condemning the flotilla for supporting “a terrorist regime (in Gaza) with summarily executes citizens in the Gaza Strip and uses children as human shields”. The two Israelis have been released, though Ghattas could face a parliamentary hearing on whether he should face sanctions.
A ship that was seized by the Israeli navy after attempting to breach the siege on Gaza has arrived at the coastal Israeli city of Ashdod, just north of the Strip, Middle East Eye has learned. “It is a collective punishment of Palestinians, who live in jail-like conditions” that have contributed to the cycles of violence that have sparked three wars between Hamas and Israel in six years, he said. “The only positive content in the IDF announcement was that they still recognize that there is a naval blockade of Gaza, despite Netanyahu government’s recent denial that one exists”, it said.
Fingers have been pointed at both Israel and a lack of support from worldwide donors.
“A substantial number of cases have been reviewed, investigated and closed”.
The United Nations investigators called on all sides to cooperate with the worldwide Criminal Court (ICC), which has opened a separate preliminary investigation, adding that “current accountability mechanisms may not be adequate to address this issue”.
And in the West Bank, a Palestinian woman stabbed a female Israeli paramilitary police officer in the neck and seriously injured her, police said.
The commission found that the “indiscriminate” targeting of Israeli civilians by Palestinian rockets “may amount to a war crime”. The Egyptian military has destroyed most of the smuggling tunnels used by Gaza to import goods and contraband, including weapons. According to law it’s only the flag state, in this case Sweden, who is allowed to act against another ship in global waters. She said he was unable to hold their 15-month-old son.