World News

Israel intercepts aid boat for Gaza; Hamas calls it 'naval piracy'

Israel intercepts aid boat for Gaza; Hamas calls it 'naval piracy'

The Israeli Navy on Sunday stopped a boat that was trying to break the maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip and started to tow the vessel to the port in Ashdod.

It was part of a flotilla attempting to break a 12-year-old blockade imposed on the Strip by Israel and neighbouring Egypt. It has led to a catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Israeli forces have violently boarded a ship, being followed by Consortium News, that was headed to Gaza bringing humanitarian aid.

European activists and a Jordanian lawmaker are on board al-Awda, which is also carrying medical aid for Gaza residents, he added.

"Israel however, claims 'the naval blockade is a necessary and legal security measure that has been recognized repeatedly by the world and the United Nations as important to the security of the state and its maritime borders that protect Israeli civilians in the face of terror and smuggling of weapons", the IDF statement wrote.

Israeli troopers entered Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest shrine in Islam, and carried out arrests on Friday in what police described as a pursuit of youths who had lobbed rocks and fireworks during clashes with its forces outside.

In response to queries, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesman said: "MFA has contacted the Israeli authorities to request that Singaporeans involved be accorded due legal rights".

Five Norwegians are among those now jailed in Israel, including Mikkel Grüner, a member of the Bergen City Council, and Gerd von der Lippe of the organization Ship to Gaza Norway.

The IDF confirmed that it had intercepted the boat and was towing it to the nearby Ashdod port.

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. Two of the boats dropped out at Palermo.

Many attempts have been made to draw attention to the Palestinian cause using blockade-busting flotillas.

Earlier this month, Israel sealed off the Karam Shalom border crossing (known to Palestinians as Karem Abu Salem) - the primary passageway that transfers necessities to residents of Gaza, saying it was in retaliation over Palestinians setting fire to Israeli land.

Mr Treen was part of a flotilla that was stopped near Gaza in global waters.

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


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