The Israeli navy troops have reportedly captured a Swedish ship en route the Gaza Strip to break the regime’s long-time blockade of the Palestinian sliver.
Contact was lost earlier with one of the vessels of the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla III as Israeli navy ships approached the convoy, the Freedom Flotilla Organization said.
The Swedish-registered the Marianne of Gothenberg was surrounded by Israeli gunboats while it was on the way to Gaza in an attempt to break the siege.
According to the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC), their latest contact with the Marianne boat was when she was still in the international waters, about 105 nautical miles off the Gaza coast.
The group added that three sailing boats accompanying Marianne — Rachel, Vittorio, and Juliano II – have changed their course and are returning to their ports of departure.
“We demand that our respective governments act with humanity and to ensure the safety of all of the delegates on board the Marianne,” the campaigners said on their website.
“We call once again on the government of Israel to finally lift the blockade on Gaza and let the peaceful ship, the Marianne, reach its destination in order to deliver its cargo of dignity and hope. We urge all international organizations to work towards opening the port of Gaza to let people and products travel freely to the world.”
The vessels are said to be carrying small amounts of medical supplies and aid, including solar panels.
The flotilla had planned to arrive at Gaza despite concerns over possible attempts by Tel Aviv to disrupt its mission as it did to the first flotilla in 2010. Back then, Israeli naval forces attacked the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship, which led to the death of 10 activists.
One year later, the second flotilla, Stay Human, also failed to carry out its mission.
In 2007, Israel imposed a complete air, ground, and naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. The crippling siege has caused a serious decline in Gazans’ standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty for the Palestinian enclave’s 1.8 million residents, which has been described by media as the world’s largest open-air prison.