Gaza / PNN – The Israeli army Saturday morning said that it had taken over a European ship, the Swedish-flagged “Freedom,” captained by John Turnbull of Vancouver, that was aimed at breaking the naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by the occupation forces 12 years ago.
After the brutal violence and theft that the Norwegian-flagged Al Awda was subjected to just days before, Captain Turnbull had stated that the participants and crew of the Freedom will not resist if boarded.
According to a spokesman for the Israeli army, the ship was under surveillance, and that the army seized it “under international law.”
The spokesman claimed that the army had made it clear to the activists on the ship that they were violating the maritime blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and that any humanitarian aid could be transferred to Gaza through the port of Ashdod.
The ship was towed to a military base in Ashdod and the activists were detained on board.
The spokesman added that the operation ended without any exceptional events.
The head of the International Committee to Break the Siege on Gaza, Zaher Birawi, stated that he had lost contact with the Swedish-flagged “Freedom,” at 10 pm on Friday, when it was approximately 40 nautical miles from the Gaza Strip.
In a statement to the press on Friday, Birawi said that the Israeli navy intercepted and seized the ship.
He holds the occupation accountable for the safety of international solidarity activists aboard the Freedom ship.
The freighter is carrying 12 international activists, mostly from Sweden, including the crew of the London-based Press TV.
In related news, elder and former Chief of the Stó:lō Nation Larry Commodore has returned to Turtle Island after joining the Freedom Flotilla to challenge the illegal blockade of Gaza in late July. Along with 21 other international participants on board the Norwegian-flagged Al Awda (The Return), Commodore was brutally attacked and kidnapped by Israeli Occupation Forces in international waters last Sunday, and unlawfully detained for four days in Israel. Upon his return home, he was greeted with traditional gifts of tobacco, sweetgrass and sage at Toronto Airport, on the ancestral lands of Haudenosaunee and Anishnaabe peoples, where he rested overnight. He will arrive this afternoon in Vancouver, unceded Coastal Salish territory, where he will be welcomed by family, community and friends who share his deep concern for the ongoing suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and indigenous rights everywhere.
Please continue to flood MPs offices, https://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office https://openparliament.ca/politicians/justin-trudeau/contact/ and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office with messages calling for protection of innocent civilian passage in international waters and protection of press freedom #DemandPressFreedom. Please also spread the message far and wide that we will not be silent until the illegal blockade of Gaza is ended and Palestine is free!