Israel Navy Intercepts Ship Seeking to Break Gaza Siege

Israeli naval forces have intercepted a boat that set out from the Port of Gaza on Tuesday in hopes of breaking Israel’s decade-long siege of the Gaza Strip.

Adham Abu Silmiyya, a spokesman for Gaza’s National Committee for Breaking the Siege, told Anadolu Agency that four Israeli naval vessels had surrounded the boat roughly eight nautical miles off Gaza’s coast.

Abu Silmiyya held Israel “fully responsible for the safety of all those aboard the vessel”.

The ship set out to sea earlier Tuesday carrying 20 Palestinian passengers, including university graduates, medical patients seeking treatment abroad, and Palestinians injured by recent Israeli violence near the Gaza-Israel security fence.

The main ship was accompanied by dozens of smaller vessels in a show of defiance against Israel’s crippling siege, which has remained in effect since 2007 and has brought Gaza to the verge of humanitarian catastrophe.

According to organizers, Tuesday’s bid to break the blockade coincides with the eighth anniversary of the Mavi Marmara incident (May 31, 2010), in which nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli forces in international waters (a tenth activist later succumbed to injuries sustained during the raid).