Jailed for Sailing to Gaza, Challenging the Blockade

by Medea Benjamin and Robert Naiman, CommonDreams.org, November 4, 2011

Two boats full of courageous passengers were on their way to Gaza when they were intercepted on Friday, November 4, by the Israeli military in international waters. We call the passengers courageous because they sailed from Turkey on November 2 with the knowledge that at any moment they might be boarded by Israeli commandos intent on stopping them—perhaps violently, as the Israeli military did in 2010 when they killed nine humanitarian aid workers on the Turkish boat named Mavi Marmara.  

An image released by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) shows one of the two Gaza-bound boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists in the Mediterranean Sea November 4, 2011. The Israeli navy boarded on Friday two yachts carrying pro-Palestinian activists who had set sail for the Gaza Strip in a challenge to Israel’s blockade of the Islamist-controlled territory. The military said in a statement that the Canadian “Tahrir” and Irish “Saoirse” vessels would be taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod. (REUTERS/Handout/IDF)

The boats—one from Canada and one from Ireland—were carrying 27 passengers, including press and peace activists from Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia and Palestine. They were unarmed, and the Israeli military knew that. They were simply peace activists wanting to connect with civilians in Gaza, and the Israeli military knew that. Yet naked aggression was used against them in international waters—something that is normally considered an act of piracy.

Continues >>

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