Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Israel diverts ship bound for Gaza

Posted by claudiacampli su 6 febbraio, 2009


By Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner

Published: February 6, 2009

JERUSALEM: The Israeli Navy intercepted a Gaza-bound cargo ship on Thursday, diverting it to an Israeli port where the people aboard were to be questioned, the military announced.

The boat, called The Brotherhood Ship, was carrying what its organizers said was humanitarian aid: food, medicine and toys.

The military said it worried the boat could “threaten security concerns” or be used to smuggle banned equipment, like weapons, “into or out of the Gaza Strip.” After searching the vessel, it said no weapons had been found.

A statement from the Israeli military said the boat, sailing under the flag of Togo, left Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, a few days ago, made a stop in Cyprus, and then tried to enter Gazan waters against Israeli orders. The military said that when the ship’s crew was instructed on Wednesday not to try to reach Gaza, the crew replied that the vessel would go to El Arish, in Egypt, but it then changed course.

“During today’s morning hours, the cargo ship changed its bearing, and began heading toward the Gaza Strip, contrary to the claims made by the boat crew last evening,” the military statement said. “Disregarding all warnings made, the cargo boat entered Gazan coastal waters.”

The Israeli military said humanitarian goods found on the boat would be sent into Gaza.

Among some 20 people aboard was the former archbishop of Jerusalem, Msgr. Hilarion Capucci, who was convicted of smuggling guns from Lebanon to Israel in 1975 and spent two years in an Israeli prison.

A reporter for Al Jazeera who was also on board spoke by telephone to television viewers, saying that the Israelis who took over the boat had pointed weapons and assaulted some of those on the ship. The connection to his telephone was then cut.

Israel has maintained a strict blockade of Gaza since Hamas took power there in a brief civil war with its secular rival, Fatah, in June 2007. In late December, Israel mounted a three-week military assault in Gaza that left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, also died.

A number of boats run by activists have challenged Israel’s control of Gaza’s waters. Israel has let a few boats in and turned others back. The incident Thursday was the first since the war ended last month.

Israel‘s foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, said Thursday that the action against the latest attempt to break the sea blockade “proved that things will be done differently” from now on.

The Arab League’s permanent observer to the United Nations condemned the interception of the boat as “an act of piracy.”

In Gaza, John Ging, the director of operations for the United Nations refugee agency there, said Thursday that Israel’s blockade was creating growing misery by choking off basic humanitarian supplies like food, medicine, clothes and blankets, as well as school supplies.

He also criticized the leadership of Hamas for letting its police force run wild, attacking a distribution center for the needy and carting off supplies.

“We are neither getting in the volume nor the range of supplies that we need here,” he told reporters at the United Nations, via video link-up. “This is creating a lot of misery among the people.”

In one example, Ging said that the teachers in the schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency had worked throughout the Israeli bombardment to create a new human rights curriculum. But because Israel was blocking paper supplies, the textbooks and workbooks could not be printed, so some 60 percent of the children in United Nations schools lack books.

The human rights curriculum was intended to combat extremism, he said, a growing problem in the wake of the Israeli bombardment. Gazans are particularly frustrated, he said, because they have seen news reports about generous donations from around the world stuck just outside the enclave. It is premature to talk about Gaza’s reconstruction until the issue of access for basic humanitarian supplies is fixed, Ging said.

As for Hamas, Ging called on its leadership to control its rank and file after armed policemen looted blankets and food from a United Nations compound. While Hamas leaders remained in hiding, he said, “those above the ground seem bent on acting in a reckless manner.”

Neil MacFarquhar contributed reporting from the United Nations.



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