NZ union leader detained by Israeli military

Charity umbrella group says Israeli forces "hijacked" the ship carrying medical aid for Palestinians in Gaza which is under Egypt and Israel-imposed land, air and sea blockade since 2007.

Last night (NZ time) one of the 2018 global Freedom Flotilla boats, the Al Awda, was unlawfully boarded and apprehended by Israeli forces in worldwide waters.

Israeli security forces detained four Palestinian employees of al-Quds television channel, considered to be affiliated with Hamas, and which Israel outlawed in early July. "In the long term, the only solution is ending the blockade", it said.

According to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, almost two million Gazans were depending on worldwide aid in order to survive while almost half of the families in Gaza lacked access to secure food supplies, by the end of 2016.

Almost 20 activists from several countries were arrested by Israeli soldiers who boarded the ship and remained jailed on Tuesday, with two of them launching a hunger strike to protest the Israeli military action against them.

The global Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) is a grassroots people-to-people solidarity movement composed of campaigns and initiatives from all over the world working together to end the siege of Gaza.

One of the Freedom Flotilla ships was previously attacked by Israeli forces in global waters in 2010.

Israeli soldiers in global waters boarded the Al Awda ship headed to Gaza to deliver relief supplies on Sunday, detaining everyone on board, including a USS Liberty survivor, after beating and tasering some passengers, according to an eyewitness account.


The two ships have taken about two months to reach the coast of Gaza, after setting sail from Scandinavia and stopping along the way at several port cities in Europe.

A military statement said "the activity ended without exceptional events".

"It is interesting that the two Israeli citizens released on bail have been charged with trying to enter Gaza".

The ministry identified the dead as Yassin Tahsin Abu Armana, 14, and Razi Abu Mustafa, 43, both killed by Israeli gunfire.

Israel says that Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, is using the protests as a cover for cross-border attacks.

"Many Gaza Strip testimonies raise fundamental doubts about the credibility of the Hamas Health Ministry's statement on the killing of terrorist operatives late last night in the northern Gaza Strip".

"Mike is also very aware that what was done to him over the last 24 hours is the daily reality for the almost 2 million citizens of Gaza, imprisoned as a people" said Mr Hehir.


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