Monday, May 16, 2011

Israel fires warning shots at aid ship

A Gaza-bound aid ship (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Israeli naval forces have fired warning shots at a Malaysian aid ship headed to the Gaza Strip as it was approaching the shore.

The ship's Malaysian organizer said the Israeli forces made them withdraw to Egyptian waters, AFP reported Monday.

"The MV Finch, carrying sewage pipes to Gaza, had warning shots fired at it by Israeli forces in the Palestinian security zone this morning at 0654 Jordan time (0354 GMT)," said Shamsul Azhar, a member of the Perdana Global Peace Foundation.

"Currently the ship has been forced to anchor in Egyptian waters, 30 nautical miles from Gaza," he further explained.

A Malaysian journalist on board said Israeli naval ships stopped the vessel with a volley of gunfire.

"The Israeli naval vessel fired a warning shot at us upon approaching and asked us to leave the waters but the ship's captain refused and the Israelis fired again, circling the MV Finch before firing twice more," Alang Bendahara went on to say.

Bendahara also added that on board the vessel there were seven Malaysians, two Irish, two Indians and a Canadian, including anti-war activists and journalists.

The Free Gaza Movement, a coalition of human rights activists and pro-Palestinian groups, announced early April that a flotilla, comprising about 15 ships with activists from 25 countries on board, would set sail to Gaza in May on the first anniversary of the Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound Turkish ship.

The Israeli military attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea on May 31, 2010, killing nine Turkish nationals aboard the Turkish-flagged MV Mavi Marmara, and injuring about 50 other people who were part of the team on the six-ship convoy.

Officials at the Perdana Global Peace Foundation, which was also involved in the 2010 Freedom Flotilla journey, said the MV Finch is not part of an international aid flotilla which plans to set sail for the Gaza Strip in June.

Around 1.5 million people in the Gaza Strip are being denied their basic rights, including the freedom of movement, and the rights to appropriate living conditions, work, health and education.

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