Israeli interception of Gaza-bound French ship outrages Palestinians

13:59, July 20, 2011      

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Israeli interception of Gaza-bound French ship outrages Palestinians

Israeli Navy commandos escort French yacht, the Dignite/Al Karama, into Ashdod Port, Israel on July 19, 2011. (Xinhua/Rafael Ben-Ari)

By Emad Drimly, Saud Abu Ramadan

The Israeli military interception of a French yacht, the Dignite/Al Karama, which sailed towards Gaza with the aim of breaching Israel's maritime blockade on the Palestinian enclave on Tuesday, outraged the Palestinians who called for an immediate international intervention to defy more than four years of blockade.

Ghassan al-Khatib, director of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) media bureau, told Xinhua that the PNA strongly condemns the Israeli interception of the French aid ship.

"Our official stance has been all the time and from the beginning condemning the Israeli policy of stopping all kinds of humanitarian aids sent to the Gaza Strip by international solidarity movements," said al-Khatib, adding that the PNA condemns cooperation between Israel and some European countries.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli naval forces intercepted the French ship carried with humanitarian aid and 16 pro-Palestinian activists and obliged the ship to sail to an Israeli port for security measures and checkup.

The ship, the Dignite/Al Karama, was intercepted and seized by the Israeli naval forces as it was about 70 km far from the shores of the Gaza Strip.

Al-Khatib called on the Palestinians "to continue their popular and official efforts to end the Israeli blockade, which had been imposed on the Gaza Strip for more than four years."

Meanwhile, Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas leader from Gaza, told Xinhua that the Israeli interception of the French ship "is an act of piracy and a war crime."

The Gaza's ruling Hamas movement called on the international community "to choose between the law of human rights and the law of piracy and jungle that is practiced by the Israeli occupation." The Islamic movement has been urging more ships of aids to come to Gaza to defy the Israeli blockade.

Meanwhile, dozens of Gaza Strip fishermen demonstrated on Tuesday at the Gaza fishermen marina as soon as they heard that the Israeli naval forces had intercepted the French ship. They chanted slogans against Israel, waved Palestinian flags and called for allowing the ship to reach Gaza.

"The people want to protect the French Ship," shouted one of the fishermen, while others called on the United Nations to protect ships trying to reach Gaza.

Meanwhile, Amjad Shawa, coordinator of the Palestinian Nongovernmental Organizations (PNGO), said that intercepting the French ship "is really an Israeli piracy," adding "We call on the international community for protection of the foreign activists who are on the board of the ship."

"The international silence of the world towards the ongoing Israeli interception and the policies of imposing the blockade is giving Israel a green light to continue the aggression on our people by imposing more sieges and repression."

Source: Xinhua

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