On July 20, 150 Israeli soldiers in three missile ships and seven commando boats attacked a small boat, the Dignite Al Karame, and arrested the 10 activists, three crew and three journalists on board.
This took place in international waters, rendering Israel's interception an act of piracy under international law. The boat was towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod, where one of those on board, Israeli journalist Amira Hass, was released.
The activists on the boat were trying to take humanitarian aid to Gaza. Every aspect of this humanitarian voyage was in accordance with international law.
The same cannot be said about Israel's denial of the humanitarian aid to Gaza. Gaza's humanitarian crisis is the result of the blockade imposed on Gaza as collective punishment for the way Palestinians voted in 2006 elections.
Collective punishment is illegal under international law even as a response to real crimes, let alone as a response to democracy!
The Dignite Al Karame was the only vessel from Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2 to approach Gaza. The others were prevented from leaving Greece. Michael Coleman, one of four Australian activists on the boat Tahrir, was arrested by Greek authorities when the Tahrir attempted to set sail.
Two other Australian activists, former MP Sylvia Hale and Vivienne Porszolt, then flew to Tel Aviv where they were detained for saying they wished to visit Palestine, again demonstrating how Israeli occupation isolates Palestine, and Palestinians, from the world. They have since been released.
Coleman said: “The seizure of the Dignite Al Karame in international waters was a violation of international law and an act of violence. Because we did not see the same bloodshed as occurred with last year’s flotilla, when the Israelis killed nine unarmed people on the Mavi Marmara, the illegal, violent nature of the attack was not as stark.
“However, the siege of Gaza, the occupation of West Bank, the denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return, are all part of the imprisonment of Palestine.
“Any action to maintain the closure and isolation of Palestine is violent. This includes my arrest by Greek coastguards. I was not treated at all roughly, but by preventing our boats from sailing the Greek authorities were committing great violence against the people of Gaza. I was shocked at this collusion, allowing Israel to outsource its cruel and illegal blockade.”