Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Tensions rise as all-women Freedom Flotilla approaches the shores of Gaza

The all-women solidarity ship called “Zaytouna” has reportedly been intercepted and attacked by Israeli naval forces, according to live updates released by the group on social media.

As the solidarity ship, whose name means "olives" in Arabic, reached less than 70 nautical miles from the shores of Gaza, inside Israel’s unilaterally declared buffer zone -- or “military exclusion zone”-- the Freedom Flotilla coalition released a statement calling on “governments, public officials and people of conscience to support publicly the right of unimpeded passage for peaceful civilian navigation, and the physical integrity of the crew and participants on board, and to support full freedom of movement for all peoples, in particular the Palestinians of Gaza.”

Shortly after, activists lost contact with the ship, leading them to believe the ship was intercepted by Israeli naval forces. However, they regained contact with the ship about an hour later.

Some 20 minutes after regaining contact, the Freedom Flotilla posted a video on Twitter of Israeli naval forces leaving Israel’s Ashdod port to intercept the ship. Activists again lost contact with the ship and released a statement claiming that the ship was under attack, adding that they received “reports” that the ship was surrounded by Israeli naval forces.

The Zaytouna was expected to arrive in the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening after setting off from the shores of Barcelona, Spain last month as part of the larger Freedom Flotilla. more

Israeli air force, army hit targets in Gaza after rocket falls in Sderot

Israeli airstrikes and artillery shells hit multiple targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday, after a a rocket fired from the blockaded Gaza Strip landed on a road inside the Israeli city of Sderot Wednesday morning.

No injuries have been reported on either side.

Local sources told Ma'an after 3 p.m. that an Israeli airstrike targeted the "al-Qadisiya" training ground in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, which reportedly belonged to Hamas' military wing the al-Qassam Brigades.

Israeli warplanes also targeted the al-Wahah building, a headquarters for Gaza’s naval police, in northwestern Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.

Another airstrike hit an agricultural field near a gas station in the northern Gaza Strip, the sources added.

Local reports also said that Israeli artillery shells landed in an open area near Jabal al-Rayyis east of Gaza City Wednesday afternoon.

Spokesman for Gaza's Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra confirmed there were no injuries in the Israeli attacks. more