Navy prepares to intercept Gaza activist ship
Ship from from Italy attempting to break security naval blockade around Gaza will be intercepted, says Foreign Ministry.
Mavi Marmara Photo: Stringer Turkey / Reuters
The Navy is preparing to intercept the latest Gaza-bound ship carrying European pro-Palestinian activists seeking to break the security naval blockade around the Strip.
An IDF source confirmed that the Navy has carried out general preparations for future ships filled with activists.
Israel will not allow the vessel to reach Gaza, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Tuesday after the organizers of the “flotilla” issued a communiqué saying they received clearance in La Spezia, Italy, to set sail and will reach Gaza in some two weeks time.
“This is the same old, same old,” Ilana Stein said of the Estelle, which counts among its 16 passengers the radical Swedish anti-Israeli activist Dror Feiler.
In 2004 the Israeli-born Feiler, who has lived in Sweden for some 40 years, praised Palestinian suicide bombers.
He also took part in the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla.
The organizers know that they are not going to be allowed to reach Gaza, and are just trying to make noise, Stein said.
Stein said that the number of participants was small, and that Israel was not overly concerned about the matter.
Since the Mavi Marmara, when Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish ship to keep it from reaching Gaza and killed nine people after coming under attack, a number of groups have unsuccessfully tried to organize various protest flotillas to Gaza or “fly-ins” to Israel.
The Estelle, sailing under a Swedish flag, set sail in June and has stopped at numerous European ports trying to drum up support and publicity.
“I’m part of the steering committee. I’m still in Sweden but will be going to Italy. Leaving Italy on the ship, Estelle, will be 15 to 17 people. It sends a message of nonviolence,” said Mattias Gardell, a spokesperson for the group.
Gardell was on board the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship, which also carried militant Islamist activists from the IHH movement.
“We’re strictly a non-violent initiative, people-to-people. We are not financed by any state or rich donor, but funded by the sweat, love and tears of ordinary Swedes from all walks of life,” Gardell said.
Gardell described the security blockade on Gaza as a “form of collective punishment, which is a direct violation of international law.”
“We hope that the Israeli military, if they could have a choice, they wouldn’t do anything when we come towards Gaza. We’re not threatening the Israeli military,” Gardell added.
In July 2011, the UN Palmer Commission published a report on the IDF’s interception of the Turkish flotilla, and ruled that Israel’s security blockade on Gaza “is both legal and appropriate.”
Since 2001, Palestinian terror groups in Gaza have fired over 10,000 rockets at southern Israeli cities, towns and villages.