Time: 11am (local time)
At 11:30am on Sunday, 30 July 2018, Israeli naval forces seized a boat sailing as part of the fifth Freedom Flotilla and attempting to reach Gaza’s shores. The boat carried 22 international activists showing solidarity with blockaded Palestinians and attempting to break the siege.
According to activists who were on the boat, the Israeli navy intercepted the boat in regional water and demanded that they turn back. One hour later, contact with the boat was cut off. The Israeli media reported later that Israeli forces had intercepted the boat while it was on its way to Gaza and had led it to Ashdod port.
Al Mezan condemns the interception and seizure of the boat and recalls that the closure of Gaza is considered a collective punishment, illegal under international law. Given the Israeli forces’ history of using violence with international activists part of other flotillas, Al Mezan expresses its concern that Israeli forces may subject the activists to ill-treatment or abuse while detaining them. Al Mezan simultaneously expresses its support for the aim of the flotilla, the fifth of its kind in the 11 years of Israel’s strictest form of closure. The activists reportedly came from 28 different countries.
Al Mezan stresses that the prolonged blockade and collective punishment measures have created desperate and undignified humanitarian conditions and resulted in serious violation of the population’s rights.
Al Mezan calls on the international community to address the root cause of the conditions in Gaza by pressuring the Israeli authorities to end the closure and blockade. Doing so effectively requires the activation of accountability mechanisms in order for perpetrators to be held to account for breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law.