Women’s boat to Gaza has released pre-recorded SOS messages by activists on board, as communication has been lost with the Zaytouna boat suggesting it has been intercepted by the Israeli Navy.
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The Israeli Navy has intercepted the Women’s Boat to Gaza bout 35 nautical miles from the coast of the besieged Strip, Haaretz newspaper reported.
“According to a high-ranking officer, passengers on board the Zaytouna-Olivia offered no resistance when the troops took over the boat. The boat was redirected to the Israeli port city of Ashdod,” the paper said.
Communication with the Women’s Boat to Gaza has ceased leading media organisations and activists to believe Israel is jamming signal to the boat.
On it’s website, the group said: “At 1558 (CEST) on 5 October, we lost contact again with the Zaytouna-Oliva and presume that the Israeli Occupation Navy has surrounded it in International Waters (latest recorded position: Lat+31.906033 Lon+33.757630) and has forced it off its course to Gaza.”
Al Jazeera, which has a journalist and camerawoman aboard the Zaytouna, said it has been unable to reach its correspondent for over an hour leading it to believe Israel has jammed signal to boat.
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According to tweets from the Women’s Boat to Gaza, the boat has been surrounded by the Israeli Navy and it is expected that the Captain, US Army Colonel Ann Wright, will be urged to turn the Zaytouna around before she enters Gaza’s Israeli occupied water and risks being intercepted by the navy and its crew detained.
The Zaytouna is currently in international waters with a crew of 13 international activists on board.
Thousands of Gazans have been waving Palestinian flags along the beach in preparation for the Zaytouna’s arrival and in solidarity with the peace activists who hoped to break the decade-long blockade on the Strip and breathe hope to those living in the enclave.
The Israeli Navy is expected to lead the Zaytouna to the port of Ashdod, north of the Gaza Strip, where the women will be handed over to authorities, questioned and deported.
The Israeli army has refused to comment on the reports saying a statement will be released in due course.
In 2010 a similar flotilla was intercepted by Israeli forces resulting in the killing of ten Turkish and American activists.
Earlier today, the group behind the flotilla released a public statement which said:
We as signatories are deeply concerned that these peaceful women activists on board the Zaytouna and their non-violent mission to break the illegal Israeli blockade, face such an unprovoked and unwarranted threat. The WBG is a solidarity mission to occupied Gaza and has no intention of entering Israel illegally.
Going on to warn of the possibility of violent assault by Israeli forces:
This humanitarian mission is in danger of being attacked, unless the international community, including the ANC-led government, steps in to prevent Israel from carrying out such crimes against humanity, crimes which it frequently commits with complete impunity.