Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Palestinians await ship attempting to break Gaza siege

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Civil society leaders and NGO representatives gathered at Gaza City's port on Wednesday to show solidarity with the Estelle ship as it heads toward Gaza.

Amjad al-Shawwa, director of the Gaza network of NGOs, said the boat was facing incitement campaigns and that Israel was pressuring governments of the activists' countries to stop them reaching Gaza.

The group gathered near a memorial for the Mavi Marmara, a 2010 flotilla that was raided by Israeli forces who killed nine passengers. Several small boats sailed off the coast as a symbolic reception for the Estelle, which is due to arrive Saturday.

An Israeli military source told The Jerusalem Post that the navy was preparing to intercept the boat. A foreign ministry spokeswoman told the newspaper Israel would not allow the vessel to reach Gaza.

Al-Shawwa said solidarity activists on board the Estelle, a Swedish boat flying a Finnish flag, would ignore Israeli threats and sail to Gaza to break the blockade. more

Gaza-bound ship brings on food, activists off Greek coast, arrives Gaza on Saturday

ATHENS: A sailing ship with pro-Palestinian activists that is planning to break an Israeli blockade of Gaza took on food and passengers off the southern Greek coast, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The Estelle, which first set off from Sweden and left Naples in Italy on October 6, stopped in international waters off the island of Crete Tuesday afternoon, where it loaded up with food and passengers.

The ship then continued its journey with five lawmakers on board -- one from Sweden, one from Spain, two Greeks and a Norwegian, the spokesman for the Ship to Gaza Sweden movement, Mikael Loefgren, told AFP by telephone.

Thirty doves that are to be freed when the boat arrives in Gaza were also on board. "They will now sail to Gaza. It's hard to say when they get there given the type of unpredictable sea we have now in the eastern Mediterranean," said Loefgren.

He expected the Estelle to arrive in Gaza around Saturday. more

Anti-apartheid protestors ejected and assaulted at US basketball's Timberwolves game against Israeli team

Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign said in a press release that, Following in the footsteps of the sports boycott of South Africa that contributed to the demise of apartheid, approximately 20 protesters advocating for human rights for Palestinians made their presence known at the Tuesday night Minnesota Timberwolves game against Maccabi-Haifa. Palestinian flags and banners calling for a boycott of Israeli apartheid were displayed and anti-apartheid chants were heard throughout the Target Center minutes into the game clearly catching the attention of the players.

As the banners were unfurled, Target Center security accompanied by Minneapolis Police began ejecting most of the protesters who were waving Palestinian flags and the anti-apartheid banners which were equivalent in size as those waved by pro-Israel counter-protesters, who were not ejected. An experienced legal observer and civil rights attorney who attempted to film the actions of a Target security guard was assaulted by a Target security supervisor, placed under arrest by an accompanying police officer and ejected with the promise of prosecution. Several persons were witness to the incident, which was also filmed by a protester. more

Israel bombards al-Qassam Brigades center in northern Gaza, navy fires on fishing boats

The Israeli Air Force bombarded, on Wednesday at dawn, a training center that belongs to the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement in northern Gaza. The Qassam Brigades said that the army attempted to assassinate some of its fighters.

The Maan News Agency reported that Israeli F16 war jets fired five missiles into the Qassam training center, located behind Sheikh Zayed residential towers, in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The shelling led to massive destruction but no casualties.

The Al-Qassam Brigades said that the army attempted to assassinate some of its senior fighters, but they managed to escape the shelling unharmed.

The Brigades added that its fighters managed to fire three missiles into the Eshkol Regional Council, in the Negev.

In related news, Israeli Navi gunboats fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition at Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza Coast, and the Central Area of the coastal region; no damages or injuries were reported. more