[HCCN] Aid for Gaza blocked again

Judy Robbins jrobbins at mainecoastmail.com
Thu Feb 5 20:51:52 EST 2009

from Al Jazeera today
Israeli forces seize Gaza aid ship

The Israeli navy has captured and diverted a ship from Lebanon  
carrying more than 60 tonnes of aid to the Gaza Strip.

Al Jazeera's correspondent aboard the Al-Ikhwa (The Brotherhood) ship  
said the navy first opened fire, then five Israeli soldiers boarded  
the ship, beating and threatening the passengers.

"They are pointing guns against us - they are kicking us and beating  
us. They are threatening our lives," Al Jazeera's Salam Khoder said.

Communications with the ship broke off shortly thereafter.

According to the owner of the vessel, the Israelis destroyed its  
communication equipment and confiscated the phones of those on board.

The Israeli military told Al Jazeera it had captured the Lebanese  
vessel and taken it to Ashdod, where authorities were examining its  
cargo. The passengers and crew, meanwhile, were being questioned by  

Warnings 'disregarded'

In a statement, the Israeli military said it had warned the ship on  
Wednesday night against entering Gaza's coastal waters.

"During today's morning hours, the cargo ship changed its bearing,  
and began heading towards the Gaza Strip .... disregarding all  
warnings made," it said.

The Lebanese prime minister has condemned Israel's seizure of the aid  
ship [AFP]
Al-Ikhwa, which originally set sail from Cyprus, left the Lebanese  
port city of Tripoli on Tuesday.

Maan Bashour, an aid co-ordinator for the group End the Blockade of  
Gaza, said the ship was carrying medical equipment, food supplies and  
books, toys and milk for small children.
"This ship was searched in Cyprus and in Lebanon," Bashour told Al  
Jazeera in Beirut, Lebanon. "And we were very eager to let it be  
searched by Lebanese and Cypriot authorities in order that there be  
no reason for the Israelis to prevent it from going to Gaza."
Foud Siniora, Lebanon's prime minister, condemned the attack on Al- 
Ikhwa, emphasising that it was on a humanitarian mission to Gaza.
"It is no surprise for Israel to perpetrate such an action as it has  
been accustomed to ignoring all international resolutions and  
values," he said during a speech in Beirut.
"I made a number of necessary phone calls with international parties  
in order to exert pressures on Israel which is violating laws. I hold  
Israel responsible for the safety of the ship and passengers. "
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