Palestinians condemn Israeli seizure of Irish Gaza-bound aid vessel

12:37, June 06, 2010      

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The Palestinians on Saturday condemned the Israeli naval forces' seizure of an Irish Gaza-bound aid vessel Rachel Corrie, which carried humanitarian aid and international activists and was due to dock at Gaza City's fishermen marina.

The deposed government of Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, said in a statement sent to reporters that "attacking the Rachel Corrie vessel by the occupation (Israel) forces is a real state terrorism," adding that "Israel ignored all the international calls to let the vessel reach the besieged Gaza Strip."

On Saturday afternoon, an elite commando forces belonging to the Israeli naval forces stopped the Irish vessel, stormed it and forced all its 15 passengers and the ship to sail to the Israeli seaport of Ashdod. The seizure of the ship ended peacefully without any casualties.

Israeli Radio reported that the Israeli naval forces' control of the vessel was carried out after the 15 activists refused to stop sailing towards the Gaza Strip water.

It added that the vessel was emptied at Ashdod seaport, no weapons were found, but it carried cements that Israel does not allow into Gaza.

The Radio quoted an Israeli spokesman as saying that the Irish vessel was not carrying any weapons, but the soldiers found 500 tons of cement, and the 15 Irish and Malaysian activists "will all be sent back to their countries through the Israeli Ben Gorion Airport."

Israel prevents cement in Gaza claiming that it is used for military purposes. Israel has been imposing a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip right after Hamas movement seized the enclave by force in June 2007, where it closed down all the commercial crossings and only allowed limited amounts of goods.

Fayez Abu Eitta, Fatah movement's spokesman, told Xinhua that the Israeli attacks on aid vessels and ships "are a real explanation of the state terrorism that the Israeli government is practicing." He said that his movement is holding intensive contacts with the international community to stop these attacks.

The attack came five days after the Israeli naval forces attacked Monday morning the Gaza-bound aid convoy Freedom Flotilla, which was carrying around 700 people coming from around 40 countries. During the attack on the flotilla, nine people were killed, eight of them are Turkish and the other a Turk of American nationality, and dozens wounded.

"Fatah movement and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are holding intensive contacts with the UN Security Council and the international community as well as the Arab countries to reveal the Israeli violations, mainly keeping the siege on Gaza," said Abu Eitta.

Ismail Radwan, a Gaza-based Hamas official, told Xinhua that " this is a new act of piracy and Israel is defying the international law."

Ahmed Bahar, Gaza-based deputy speaker of the Hamas-dominated parliament, better known as the PLC, said in a press statement sent to Xinhua that "it was enough for Israel to kill the people in the Freedom Flotilla, it insists to continue its dangerous policy."

"The attack on Irish Rachel Corrie vessel today shows that the international community's pressure didn't work after it (Israel) committed its crime against the Freedom Flotilla," said Bahar, who accused Israel "of kidnapping and torturing the peace activists."

Meanwhile, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ( PFLP) said in a statement sent to reporters that it calls on the United Nations and all its institutions to condemn and punish Israel "for practicing terrorism and piracy and for violating the international laws."

The International-Palestinian Campaign to End Gaza Siege called on Israel to immediately release the activists who were on Rachel Corrie vessel. The Gaza-based group said in a press statement that it expresses concerns over the situation of the activists that were arrested by the Israeli army forces.

Jamal al-Khudari, chief of the Popular Committee to Challenge Gaza Siege, said in a press statement sent to Xinhua that the international solidarity movements' activists "are frightening Israel because they carry messages that reveal the ugly face of the Israeli occupation."

"The Israeli war against the foreign peace activists who come to defy the siege and express solidarity with the Palestinians is evidence that Israel is imposing a tight siege and wants to hide the facts and the crimes it commits against the population of the Gaza Strip," said al-Khudari.



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