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Yousef: Israel's detention of freedom flotilla is a crime

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 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Head of the Popular International Committee to Support Gaza, Dr Essam Yousef, called on the international community to pressure Israel to immediately release the passengers of a ship that set sail yesterday from Gaza heading to Cyprus in an effort to break the 12 year siege of the enclave.

Israeli occupation forces flanked the ship as it reached nine nautical miles from Gaza's shores only for them to force it on to the Israeli port of Ashdod to the north of Gaza.

In a press statement today, Yousef condemned "the latest crime which is to be added to the occupation's criminal record against the Palestinian people and the people of Gaza, who have been besieged for 12 years. This is a violation of all international conventions, laws, and legislations."

READ: Palestinian boat breaks Gaza siege 

Yousef held the Israeli authorities completely responsible for the safety of the ship's passengers, who are "ill, students and unarmed civilians".

How can a state with an arsenal of deadly weapons as big as Israel and which considers itself a regional force superior to the rest of the region's countries on a military level, pursue a ship carrying the ill and students who's only aspiration is to leave the besieged Gaza Strip for treatment and education?

Yousef asked.

"Isn't this state ashamed of itself, as it acts like a rogue state above the law, building its strength and force on the remains of innocent, starving and oppressed Palestinian people," he added.

Freedom Flotilla III - Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Freedom Flotilla III – Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Yousef called on the governments of the free world and humanitarian and human rights organisations, as well as all international institutions to continue to pressure the occupation to lift the illegal and immoral siege imposed on two million people in Gaza, posing a blatant violation of all international charters related to human rights.

He also stressed the "Palestinian people's right to move in and out of their country for treatment, education, work and any other activity, like the rest of the peoples of the world. No force on earth can continue to imprison and suffocate an entire nation who aspires for freedom and a dignified life."

READ: The return of the 'humanitarian defence front'

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