Israel navy fires Lebanese aid ship to Gaza

Israeli navy fired several times on a Lebanese ship carrying medical supplies, food, clothing and toys away from the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Israel navy fires Lebanese aid ship to Gaza

The Israeli navy opened fire on Lebanese vessel carrying medical supplies, food, clothing and toys away from the blockaded Gaza Strip on Thursday and assaulted some of the people on board the ship carrying humanitarian aid, Al Jazeera television reported.

The Israeli military did not have an immediate comment on the incident.

"They (Israeli navy) are opening fire towards the vessel ... there are Israeli soldiers who have actually boarded the vessel," said Salam Khoder, an Al Jazeera correspondent on board the ship.

"Three of them are pointing their weapons at us ... They are beating those on the vessel, they are beating and kicking us," Khoder said in a frantic voice before the telephone interview was terminated.

Jazeera said attempts to re-establish contact with Khoder had failed. It did not say how many people were on board the boat.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora called on the international community to press Israel to allow the ship to reach the war-battered Palestinian territory.

The boat was carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip where thousands of people were left homeless after Israel's 22-day offensive, which ended on Jan. 18.

According to an organizer of the delivery, Dr Hani Suleiman, the ship, called the Brotherhood, contained 60 tons of aid for health, humanitarian and social organization.

Heavy Blockade

Israel launched on Dec. 27 a massive offensive in Gaza, killing more than 1300 Palestinians, a third of them children, and wounded at least 5300.

Israel targeted hospitals, schools, mosques and government buildings and destroyed infrastructure system in Gaza, lefting Palestinians without electricity, gas and power.

Hamas wants Israel and Egypt to reopen all Gaza's border crossings so that people and goods can move freely. Gaza has been under heavy blockade for most of the time since Hamas took power there in June 2007.

Gazans live under heavy Israel siege for a long time and Egypt still insists on not to opening the only Gaza border crossing in a move condemned by Muslims around the world in protests, leaving Gazans desperate to digging tunnels underground and risking their lives.

On board the vessel were nine people, including the former Greek-Catholic archbishop of Jerusalem, Monsignor Hilarion Capucci, a notable named Dahoud Mustafa along with journalists Ogarit Dandash and Salam Khader, Muhammad Aleiq and Mazen Majed, and an Irish activist with the Free Gaza movement.

The aid on board the ship came from mainly Lebanese and Arab charities. The shipment was organised by the Palestinian National Committee Against the Siege in cooperation with the U.S.-based Free Gaza Movement.

In December, the Israeli navy clashed with a small boat, Dignity, carrying international activists with aid for Gaza and forced it to divert to Lebanon's waters.

Agencies

Last Mod: 05 Şubat 2009, 13:08
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