Arab Knesset members, left-wing activists planning to sail south from Jaffa in bid to ‘break the blockade’, transfer humanitarian equipment to Strip stopped by Israel Police; vessel transferred to Tel Aviv marina. ‘This is a coward move; all we wanted was to deliver medicines,’ says MK Tibi
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Police prevent Gaza sail: A boat scheduled to leave the Jaffa Port on Sunday morning with several Arab Knesset members and sail to the Gaza Strip was seized by the police early Sunday and transferred to the Tel Aviv marina, Ynet has learned.
The police also seized a truck carrying equipment and medications and detained three suspects for questioning.
Left-wing activists and several Arab MKs were planning to dock in the Strip a day before the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha) in protest of the “Israeli blockade” and transfer humanitarian equipment, including medications, food and toys.
Police officials explained that they acted according to clause 24 in the “disengagement implementation law”, which states that Israelis will not enter Gaza without a permit.
There were no reports of clashes in the area, but the police boosted their forces in Jaffa for fear of riots. Police officials estimated that was the only boat scheduled to sail to Gaza.
Hadash Chairman Mohammad Barakeh was on his way to Jaffa when he heard about the police operation from Ynet.
“If this is the state of things, the strong Israel must be afraid of a humanitarian act,” he said. “We wanted to show the world that there is a different Israel, but it appears that the authorities insist on presenting Israel in its ugliness.”
Zahi Nujaidat of the Committee against the Siege, which initiated the move, claimed that the police operation had no illegal basis. “No one told us, ‘Don’t sail.’ Every person in Israel can pay a boat owner and sail and travel to Gaza’s waters, just like anyone can sail to Akko and Tiberias,” he said.
United Arab List-Ta’al Chairman Ahmad Tibi, who joined the sail initiative at the last moment, said this was “a coward and anti-Democratic move by people and an establishment fearing the supply of medicines to a Gaza hospital.
“This is the same institution which turns a blind eye and silently agrees – recently more intensely – to the riots and pogroms of Jewish fascists from the settlements, and is the one preventing a ship of medications carrying a human message to sail to the Shifa Hospital in Gaza in order to deliver the medicines.”
Tibi stressed that the sail was not a political one and that there were no scheduled meetings with members of movements which do not recognize Israel (i.e. Hamas).
“This was a symbolic sail aimed at breaking the siege. We support the lull and we succeed in the humanitarian test, while the occupation fails once and again.”
MKs Wasal Taha and Jamal Zahalka (Balad) said in a statement, “We will continue our efforts to send aid boats to Gaza from Israel and abroad and won’t give up. “Gaza is hungry on the eve of the Festival of Sacrifice and this is humanitarian aid.”
3 sails despite truce
Last week, Libya demanded that the United Nations Security Council hold an emergency session to discuss Israel’s refusal to allow a Libyan vessel carrying humanitarian supplies to dock on Gaza’s shore.
During the discussion, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev responded to the claims on damaging peace efforts, saying, “You’re adapting yourselves to Hizbullah and al-Qaeda.
In the past Israel allowed ships to transfer equipment to Gaza, but has apparently decided to increase the pressure on Hamas following the recent attacks on Israel.
Three sails have reached the Strip’s shores in recent months, despite the Israeli siege. The first sail of peace activists arrived in Gaza in August with Israel’s approval.
In November, another group of activists reported that it had managed to reach the Strip’s shores after sailing from Cyprus. Several weeks later, 11 European parliament members from Britain, Ireland, Switzerland and Italy also decided to visit Gaza via sea in order to examine the humanitarian situation in the Strip.