Israel boarded without permission and commandeered another Gaza-bound vessel carrying humanitarian supplies in international waters today, which was making another attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.
"The Estelle is now under attack - I have just had a message from them by phone," Victoria Strand, a Stockholm-based spokeswoman for the Ship to Gaza Sweden campaign told the AFP news agency on Saturday....
"Five or six military vessels surrounded the Estelle. Soldiers wearing masks are now trying to board the ship. The attack took place on international water: N31 26 E33 45," Feiler said.
The Israeli military confirmed that the ship was boarded, after first denying that they had attacked or boarded it.
Bearing witness to the cargo and purely humanitarian nature of the mission were five European Parliamentarians from various nations. Confirmed aboard are:
Former Member of Parliament Manly James, Canada
Member of Parliament Hagen Aksel, Norway
Member of Parliament Britton Sven, Sweden
Member of Parliament Kodelas Dimitios, Greece
Member of Parliament Sixto Ricardo, Spain
Member of Parliament Diamantopoulos Evangelos, Greece
AFP-Yahoo News states:
Ahead of the ship's arrival in Ashdod, a group of 20 Israeli peace activists gathered on a nearby beach, holding up signs in English and Hebrew reading: "End the siege of Gaza" and "Blockade = war crime," an AFP correspondent said.
"We oppose Israeli policy, which seeks to maintain its control through siege and closure, strangulating the Palestinian people," said a coalition of Israeli rights groups, including the Coalition of Women for Peace, Yesh Gvul and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.
Activists organised a major attempt to break the Israeli blockade in May 2010, when six ships led by the Mavi Marmara tried to reach Gaza.
Israeli troops stormed the Marmara, killing nine Turkish activists and sparking a diplomatic crisis with Ankara.
After the killings of the Marmara activists in 2010, former Reagan Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Dr. Paul Craig RobertS went on RT to charge that US failure to strongly condemn Israel over such acts is a result of the US Congress being a "puppet" of Israel. Roberts ascribes this in turn to the undue influence of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, over the US elections process. Earlier this year an "Occupy AIPAC" spin-off of the Occupy Wall Street movement protested the organization's stated agenda
of "enshrin[ing] in law that it is U.S. policy to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
The protest sparked a melee in which the protesters were attacked by AIPAC members and one older activist choked with his necktie (video below.)