‘There is a Future’ party leader Ya’ir Lapid today called on the Israeli government to arrest activists participating in the Freedom Flotilla’s current attempt to reach Gaza.
In a statement made today, party leader Lapid described the activists aboard Freedom Flotilla III as ‘supporters of terrorist organisations’ acting disguised as human rights advocates.
The Freedom Flotilla, which set sail for Gaza on June 26, is comprised of a number of ships carrying pro-Palestine activists aiming to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The Flotilla released a statement on Friday saying that its ‘aim was to break the naval blockade on Gaza’ which is considered the largest open-air prison in the world. Ships came from all over the world to join the Flotilla as it set sail from Crete to Gaza yesterday.
This current campaign comes at a time when Israel is coming under growing international pressure especially after the publication of a UN report which indicated that Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes during the 2014 Israeli aggression in Gaza which left 2200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis dead.
Freedom Flotilla III is carrying 70 activists and crew persons, including the former Tunisian president, Arab Deputy in the Israeli Knesset, Basel Ghatas, and Swedish activist Dror Feilir.
On his Facebook page, Ghatas wrote that “Finally, after some major complications, we now proceed aboard Swedish ship ‘Liberty Marianne’ on the way to Gaza.”
Activist Dror Feiler, who is a Swedish national born in Israel, told Radio Sun that the fleet had suffered from sabotage carried out by ‘professionals’, and had required a fair amount of repair before setting sail.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotofila said earlier this week that the State Department is working around the clock ‘through diplomatic channels’ to prevent the arrival of the fleet in Gaza, and condemned the work of ‘provocateurs aiming to tarnish the image of Israel’ concerning the 2010 Israeli attack on the ship Mavi Marmara, which left 10 Turkish activists dead.
Spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Emmanuel Naschon said earlier this week that the Flotilla has “announced their intention to go to Gaza, but we will not allow this because Gaza is under a naval blockade approved by international law.”
In response, Feiler said that the activists were working on obtaining international arrest warrants for any Israeli naval soldier who attempts to prevent the fleet passing.
Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza in June 2006 after an Israeli soldier was kidnapped, and then tightened it further in 2007 following Hamas’ win in the elections.
This is the latest of several attempts to reach the shore of the Gaza Strip.