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Palestinian boat breaks Gaza siege

A ship carrying 20 Palestinians set out from the Port of Gaza in the hopes of breaking Israel’s decade-long maritime embargo of the Gaza Strip

Israel today intercepted a Palestinian boat as it tried to break the 12-year siege on the enclave.

Setting off at 10:30am local time, the flotilla was carrying 25 patients, students and activists and heading towards Cyprus. According to Al Jazeera, by midday the boat had travelled nine nautical miles with four Israeli warships flanking it.

We’re surrounded by Israeli warships to the left, the right, to our front and from behind. We’re stuck in the middle

an activist on the flotilla told reporters.

“We’re all safe and request your prayers.”

Palestinians had called on the international community to protect the boat as it set off on its historic journey and to ensure the safety of all those onboard. They warned that occupation forces would continue their aggression against the Palestinian people, adding that the flotilla is a purely civilian initiative aimed at ending the isolation of the Gaza Strip and force the occupation to end the suffering of the more than two million people living there.

Read: Remembering Israel’s deadly assault on the humanitarian Freedom Flotilla

“This trip will carry the hopes and dreams of the Palestinian people for freedom,” Salah Abdul-Ati, a member of a Palestinian committee tasked with breaking the siege, told a press conference in the Gaza City on Sunday.

Contrary to the terms of the Oslo Accords signed 25 years ago, Israel only allows Palestinians to fish within six nautical miles of their coast, occasionally extending the area to nine nautical miles. According to the Oslo Accords, Gaza fishermen would be given the freedom to out to a distance of 20 nautical miles from shore.

Eight years ago this week Israeli occupation forces mounted in international waters a Turkish ship which had aimed to break the siege of Gaza. Israeli soldiers fired at the activists killing ten. The event lead to a political crisis between Turkey and Israel which took years to heal. Israel apologised for the army’s actions and compensated the families of those who had been killed a total of $20 million.

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