Jerusalem: Israel has freed six of 27
passengers and crew who were aboard two ships intercepted by
its navy while trying to run the Jewish state`s blockade on
the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, an official said on Saturday.
Commandos boarded the Irish-flagged Saoirse (Freedom) and
the Canadian ship Tahrir (Arabic for Liberation) in
international waters off Gaza yesterday before the navy
escorted them to the port of Ashdod, the military said.
Interior ministry spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said the
six released included an Israeli Arab, 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.
Asked when the 21 activists were expected to be freed,
Hadad explained the deportation process requires them to see a
judge, a process that would take at least 72 hours.
At the end of the process, Israel would fly the activists
back to their homelands, she said. Fourteen of the activists
held by Israel were Irish, the rest are from Canada, Scotland,
Australia and the US.
Activists organised a major attempt to break the Israeli
blockade in May 2010, when six ships led by the Turkish Mavi
Marmara tried to reach Gaza.
Israeli troops stormed the Marmara, killing nine Turkish
activists and sparking a diplomatic crisis with Ankara, which
expelled the Israeli ambassador and has cut military ties with
the Jewish state.