JERUSALEM — Nineteen foreign activists of the pro-Palestinian Free Gaza Movement were being held in Israel awaiting deportation on Thursday, two days after the Israeli Navy seized control of their boat off Gaza.
A former United States Representative, Cynthia McKinney, and an Irish peace activist and Nobel laureate, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, were among those being held. Two additional Israeli activists were released without being charged on Wednesday, according to the group.
The Free Gaza Movement and other campaigners have sailed several boats to Gaza in the last year, saying they wanted to bring humanitarian aid and challenging the Israeli blockade. Israel has let some boats reach the coastal strip and forced others to turn back at sea
This time, the Israeli navy commandeered the boat and brought the crew and passengers ashore in Ashdod. The military said in a statement that the navy had previously contacted the boat at sea and warned that it would not be permitted to enter Gaza coastal waters “because of security risks in the area and the existing naval blockade.”
Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories, said in a statement from Geneva on Thursday that the seizure of the boat was unlawful and that the Israeli blockade of Gaza constituted a “continuing crime against humanity.” more at NYTimes
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