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IDF Seizes Palestinian Vessel

IDF Seizes Palestinian Vessel

IDF Seizes Palestinian Vessel

Written by Andrew Friedman/TPS on May 29, 2018

Navy Commandos seized a Palestinian vessel off the Gaza coast Tuesday for violating the maritime blockade of the coastal strip.

The vessel, called the Al-Hurriyah (Liberty), was carrying 35 Gaza residents who were trying to reach Cyprus, reportedly for medical treatment and/or to pursue university study. The ship was towed to Ashdod port.

The attempt to break through the naval blockade took place in the context of an ongoing Hamas-sponsored “Great March of Return” that began on March 29. Since then, protesters have clashed weekly on the Gaza-Israel border and Gazans have launched dozens of burning kites over the border in order to set fire to agricultural fields inside Israel.

The action also marked the eighth anniversary of the May, 2010 “freedom flotilla” incident in which pro-Palestinian protesters tried to break through the naval blockade. Ten Navy Seals were wounded, including one seriously, when they were attacked by protesters as they boarded the MV Mavi Marmara. Ten Turkish nationals were also killed in the incident.

That incident led to a six-year diplomatic freeze between Jerusalem and Ankara that was resolved in 2016 when Israel agreed to pay damages to the families of the victims.

Israel has imposed a land, sea and air blockade of Gaza since Hamas ousted the Fatah leadership from the Strip in 2007.

Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations, condemned the flotilla, saying the move was yet another example of Hamas “cynically risking” the lives of Gaza residents.

“Shame on all involved in inciting the so called “reverse flotilla” today. Hamas treats this like a play being acted out for a live media audience. But these are real lives Hamas is cynically risking in a grim bid to hold on to power,” Greenblatt wrote on Twitter.


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