Carrying 17 people, including university students, cancer patients, and protesters wounded by Israeli forces during the Great Return March, the Gaza boat was headed towards Cyprus before IDF gunboats intercepted it.
By Meron Rapoport, Mohammed Zaanoun, and +972 Magazine Staff
Israeli gunships intercepted a Palestinian boat attempting to break Israel’s naval siege of the Gaza Strip Tuesday afternoon. The attempt to break the blockade comes two weeks after Israeli soldiers killed at least 60 Palestinian protesters and wounded thousands of others at the Gaza-Israel separation barrier on Gaza’s eastern boundary.
The boat was headed to Limassol, Cyprus, and was part of a small flotilla comprised of three boats in total. The two other boats turned back and did not breach the naval blockade line enforced by the IDF. The IDF does not allow Palestinians to venture more than nine miles off the coast of the Gaza Strip.
The boat that the IDF intercepted was carrying 17 people. Those on board were mainly university students, but also included cancer patients and protesters wounded during the Return March seeking medical care outside of the besieged Gaza Strip, flotilla participants said.
“We are two university graduates, we lost hope of finding work in Gaza. Life in Gaza is impossible. We want a secure future. We are leaving for the sake of freedom,” flotilla participants Shadi al Nakleh, 28, and Ihab abu Armaneh, 29, told +972 correspondent Mohammed Zaanoun.
“We have no connection to any political party in Palestine,” the participants added. “We are sailing peacefully, without any weapons. Our message to the world is that we want peace — our journey is nonviolent.”
Asked about the risks their journey could entail, the participants responded, “We believe we will arrive in peace, but there are clear dangers: attack, arrest, the sinking the ship.”
“But the most important thing is that we will get their peacefully,” they stressed. “All other messages have failed.”
“Shadi told me that he wanted to leave, that he wanted to find work,” said Shadi’s mother. “He made his decision — what can I do? May God protect him from danger.”
After Israeli naval forces intercepted the boat, the IDF spokesperson announced that the boat would be towed to a naval base in Ashdod and the passengers returned to Gaza.
The interception of the Cyprus-bound boat comes just as another Freedom Flotilla, which departed the Norwegian port of Bergen on April...Read More