The navy on Friday intercepted without incident a small Gaza-bound flotilla
carrying 27 pro-Palestinian activists.
The Canadian Tahrir vessel and
Irish Saoirse boat were boarded after they failed to heed instructions to stop
their progress toward the Gaza Strip, and ignored radio calls informing them
that they were heading to a closed naval zone where a legal blockade was in
Authorities on Saturday began deporting the activists to their
home countries, with the exception of those who asked to appear before a court
and argue their case for remaining in the country.
By Saturday evening,
two Greeks were flown home. Two journalists – one American and one Spanish, were
scheduled to board flights out of the country on Sunday.
An Israeli Arab
from the Galilee was released by police in Ashdod after being questioned, as was
an Egyptian woman who returned to her country overnight on Saturday. Twentyone
other activists are being held in custody pending deportation.
activists, who came from Ireland, Canada, Greece, Australia, Scotland, the US,
Spain and Morocco, were turned over to police and immigration authorities upon
their arrival at Ashdod Port on Friday.
The IDF announced on Saturday
night that they would inspect the contents of the ship and any humanitarian aid
would be passed on through the proper channels to Gaza.
Friday, while they were still at sea, the IDF informed the activists that their
course was leading them toward a naval closure off the coast of Gaza that was in
place due to security reasons and was backed by international law.
vessels were informed that they could turn around or head to a port in
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz ordered the navy
to board the boats after the requests were ignored.
The activists called
their flotilla “Freedom Waves to Gaza.”
Before the navy’s interception,
Canadian organizer Ehab Lotayef, speaking from one of the vessels, said the
activists had “the wind of public opinion at our back and in our sails, which
strengthens our resolve and determination to challenge the illegal blockade of
Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants,” according to the Palestinian Spring
On May 31 2010, Israel Navy commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara ship
headed to break the blockade of Gaza. The incident resulted in the deaths of
nine Turkish activists.