Earlier today a boat from the Liberty Flotilla, carrying Palestinians seeking urgent medical treatment, attempted to sail to Cyprus and break the 12 year-long Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, but was intercepted by Israeli navy gun boats. [Video via Mohammed Kareem]. pic.twitter.com/hhhgNP6osj— The IMEU (@theIMEU) May 29, 2018
Israeli Defense Forces on Tuesday intercepted a boat full of Palestinians seeking safe refuge and heading toward the island of Cyprus.
The boat, which was part of a three-boat flotilla, harbored at least 17 individuals who were seeking safe passage out of Gaza following violent clashes there with the IDF. Dozens of Palestinians were killed, and thousands more injured, during a protest earlier this month in the region.
Among those who were on the boat that was intercepted on Tuesday were a few were victims of the protest attack seeking medical attention outside of Gaza. Others included cancer patients and university students seeking better educational opportunities.
“We have no connection to any political party in Palestine,” one of the boat passengers said. “We are sailing peacefully, without any weapons. Our message to the world is that we want peace — our journey is nonviolent.”
Rather than allow safe passage, or simply allow the passengers to return to Gaza, the IDF tweeted out that the boat would be “towed to the Israeli Navy Base in Ashdod.”
Moments ago, the Israeli Navy apprehended a Palestinian boat with approximately 17 Palestinians that attempted to breach the legal naval blockade. After a search of the boat and the Palestinians, the boat will be towed to the Israeli Navy base in Ashdod— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 29, 2018
They also tweeted out that they believed the passengers on board were not attempting to sail under peaceful circumstances.
The Hamas terror organization, who’s responsible for this attempt to breach the naval blockade, is trying to carry out a propaganda operation whilst using its people— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 29, 2018
Israel enforces a strict limit on how far Palestinians can sail out from Gaza. The current limit is nine nautical miles, although an agreement from 1993 states that the limit should be no shorter than 20 nautical miles.
Even if those limits were expanded, however, it would do very little good for the people of Palestine, especially for those taking part in this latest voyage. Gaza is more than 200 nautical miles away from Cyprus.
These restrictions highlight the unbelievable ways in which the Israeli government seeks to impose its harsh rule on Palestinians in Gaza. One could be forgiven for labeling these harsh rules, and the treatment of Palestinians in general, as “apartheid” — it certainly looks the part.
Those who are seeking safe passage to other areas should not be restricted from doing so in such ways. Israel ought to change its path and become more compassionate and cooperative with Palestinians.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Amir Cohen/Reuters