Ship to Gaza lawyer to file Israel police report

Ship to Gaza, the Swedish organisation behind a Gaza-bound aid ship intercepted in May by Israeli commandos, has retained plans to file an official complaint with Israeli police despite the expulsion of two of its members from Israel on Sunday, according to a statement.

Ship to Gaza lawyer to file Israel police report
Green Party MP Mehmet Kaplan in April

Green Party MP Mehmet Kaplan and Swedish-Israeli artist Dror Feiler have instructed their lawyer to hand over a complaint to the Israeli police alleging armed robbery or theft, kidnapping, illegal detention and assault, after they failed in their attempt to enter Israel in person.

The Israeli interior ministry explained that Kaplan and Feiler had been prevented from entering the country as they had not followed the terms of an agreement signed in order to secure their release from Israeli detention in June.

Israeli commandos on May 31st intercepted an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip and nine Turkish activists were killed when commandos raided the flagship, the ferry Mavi Marmara.

Passengers detained in the raid on the flotilla were later released after signing a letter “in which they pledged to obtain authorisation to enter Israel from Israeli embassies in their respective countries,” a spokesperson said.

“They [Kaplan and Feiler] were perfectly aware of these dispositions, but they did not respect them,” she said, explaining why the pair were barred from entering Israel on Sunday.

Ship to Gaza Sweden organisers announced in August that they plan to make a new attempt to reach the Palestinian territory before the end of 2010.

“We are going to send a flotilla if the siege is not lifted,” Dror Feiler said at the time after a meeting of the group in Stockholm.

Feiler explained that group plan to sail again in an expanded flotilla “before the end of this year.”

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Israel intercepts Swedish Gaza-bound activist boat

The Israeli navy intercepted a Swedish-flagged activist boat bent on breaching its more than decade-long blockade of Gaza, the second in less than a week, the military said on Saturday.

Israel intercepts Swedish Gaza-bound activist boat
Photo: TT

“The ship was monitored and was intercepted in accordance with international law,” the military said in a statement, before the vessel, named Freedom for Gaza and carrying 12 people, was taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

“The (military) clarified to the ship’s passengers that they are violating the legal naval blockade and that any humanitarian merchandise can be transferred to Gaza through the Port of Ashdod,” the statement said.

The people on board were taken for “further inquiry.”

The organisers of the flotilla said the boat, which was carrying medical supplies, was intercepted in international waters.

“The demands of Ship to Gaza are that the ship with its crew and cargo will be returned to the site of the boarding, and that they will be allowed to go in peace through international and Palestinian waters in accordance to international law,” they said in a statement.

“This is a demand that the eleven years-long illegal and destructive blockade on Gaza will be lifted at last.”

Freedom was the second boat of the “Freedom Flotilla” to be intercepted en route to “break the blockade” on Gaza, organisers said.

Four boats left from Scandinavia in mid-May and stopped in some 28 ports along the way, with two remaining behind after a recent stop in the Italian port of Palermo.

On Sunday, the Israeli navy intercepted a Norwegian-flagged activist boat that was part of the flotilla.

Israel has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in Gaza since 2008 and says the blockade is necessary to keep them from obtaining weapons or materials that could be used for military purposes.

UN officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian enclave run by Islamist movement Hamas where 80 percent of the two million population are dependent on aid.