Gazans seek to break Israel’s sea blockade

Palestinian activists set sail today in defiance of Israel and Egypt's naval blockade on Gaza.

Palestinians injured by Israeli army gunfire during recent peaceful protests sought to break Israel’s illegal maritime blockade of the territory by sailing out to sea on May 30.

Dozens of small vessels accompanied two larger boats as they headed out towards the six-mile fishing limit Israeli authorities impose on Gazan mariners.

The small boats had to pull back as the two vessels went further out, before they were intercepted by the Israeli navy.

Israeli soldiers arrested the passengers on one of the boats and warships escorted it 12 miles away from the Gazan coast towards the Israeli side. It was not clear what had happened to the second boat.

The maritime protest is part of the series of peaceful demonstrations called the Great March of Return, which Israeli soldiers have met with deadly force. It also marked eight years since Israeli commandos raided a Turkish vessel trying to break the siege and murdered several of the peace activists on board.

Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes bombarded the Gaza Strip, carrying out 35 air strikes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “exact a heavy price from those who seek to harm” Israel.

The attacks followed the firing of several mortars across the border from Gaza into Israel, causing no injuries and little damage. The mortar fire followed Israel’s cold-blooded massacre on May 14 of dozens of peaceful protesters who had marched towards Israel’s border wall.

Human Rights Watch published a report on May 30 charging that Israeli banks have been repeatedly breaking international law through their deep involvement with the country’s illegal settlement programme in the West Bank.

The report said that banks helped encourage settlement growth and “contribute to rights abuses” against Palestinians.

[Abridged from Morning Star Online.]

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