The Islamic Post Blog

Attack on Lebanese Aid Boat Going into Gaza by ipinfo2
March 25, 2009, 6:03 am
Filed under: March Volume 2009, World | Tags:

By Umm Murtaza
Islamic Post Staff Writer

The Israeli navy recently seized a ship intent on gaining access to the heavily guarded Gaza Strip. After capture, the ship was towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
The humanitarian vessel, which sailed from the Lebanese port, Tripoli, was dubbed the “brotherhood ship” and carried aid from mainly Arab and Lebanese charities for Gaza. There were approximately 60 tons of supplies aboard, including medicine, food, toys and books. Among the twenty some-odd passengers was a Syrian catholic priest, a Greek catholic priest Hillarion Cappuccion, a Muslim cleric and several Arab journalists.
Israeli authorities stated the vessel was not authorized, however, to enter Gaza and that the ship tried to “sneak” into the guarded waters of the Gaza Strip, Al Jazeera reported Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying. Israel states the blockade of Gaza is a response to repeated Hamas attacks on southern Israel, also that they were led to believe the ship was a “threat to security” possibly smuggling weapons “into and out of the Gaza Strip,” the New York Times reported. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fouad Siniora stated that the boat had nothing to do with smuggling weapons and condemned the Israeli actions as a “blatant attack”.
Free Gaza organizers helped in Cyprus to get the boat inspected by local authorities before sailing for Gaza.
It is said that the Israeli Navy opened fire prior to boarding and, after gaining access, beat some of the passengers. The Israelis deny charges stating that “no guns were fired.” However, before the phone connections were cut, gunfire could be heard in the background via telephone and the subsequent reports were aired by the stations of the journalists on board.
Israel maintains strict control of Gaza’s access to the outside world. They insist that they will not permit cash, steel or any other substance that could be used to make weapons for use against Israelis by Hamas. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora stated: “The same Israel that commits massacres against innocent civilians in Lebanon and Gaza is not ashamed to assault a ship carrying humanitarian supplies.
Maan Bashour, a pro-Palestinian Lebanese involved with the organization of the trip told Associated Press “There will be more boats”, “We will keep sending them”.
On March 9, the convoy Viva Palestina of the Free Gaza Movement crossed without incident into Gaza at 3.30 p.m. “We have broken the barriers, we have opened closed borders, we have defied the odds, we have overcome the challenges across thousands of miles and three continents. We are here to be with you, to embrace you, to share your tragedy with you,” read the statement.


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