Jerusalem: A group of 21 activists who
tried to sail to Gaza in breach of an Israeli blockade of the
territory remain in Israeli custody, pending legal
proceedings, the interior ministry said on Sunday.
"There are 21 passengers detained who refused to be
expelled immediately and are engaged in proceedings against
their deportation before an Israeli judge," interior ministry
spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said.
"Only after these proceedings are complete... can they
be deported," she said.
The 21 activists were among 27 passengers and crew
aboard two ships intercepted by the Israeli navy as they tried
to run the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli commandos boarded the Irish-flagged Saoirse
(Freedom) and the Canadian ship Tahrir (Liberation) in
international waters off Gaza on Friday before the navy
escorted them to the port of Ashdod, the Israeli military
Yesterday, Israel freed six of the passengers -- an
Arab-Israeli, two Greek crewmen, and three journalists from
Egypt, Spain and the United States.
She said the remaining 21 people were still being held
at a detention facility in Ramla near Tel Aviv, after
questioning by immigration authorities.
Those still in Israeli detention are from Australia,
Britain, Canada, Ireland and the United States.
The attempt to sail to Gaza was the latest in a string
of activist missions aimed at breaching Israel`s blockade of
In May 2010, six ships led by the Turkish Mavi Marmara
tried to reach the coastal strip, but were intercepted by
Israeli commandos, who stormed the boats, killing nine Turkish
activists and sparking a diplomatic crisis with Ankara.
Earlier this year, a second flotilla tried to reach
Gaza, but several ships were sabotaged -- which activists
blamed on Israel -- and the one boat that made the sailing was
intercepted before it could reach Gaza.