Palestinians urge protection to Gaza-bound boat
Ramallah: The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Sunday called for international protection to a boat carrying pro-Palestinian activists trying to break Israel's naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, reported Xinhua.
The Islamic Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, has also urged the world to respond to Israeli threats against Estelle, the Finish-flagged boat.
The international community must provide protection for the flotilla because it is a legitimate peaceful activity directed against the Israeli siege, said Nour Odeh, spokeswoman for the PNA.
The boat set sail from Naples, Italy, on Oct 7. It carries more than a dozen activists, most of them from Western countries, and humanitarian aid.
It is scheduled to arrive in Gaza in two weeks, depending on weather conditions.
But the Israel foreign ministry Saturday notified Finland that the boat will be stopped if it tried to enter Gaza's waters.
Yousef Rizka, a Hamas official, warned that Israel may use "violence and terror to prevent the humanitarian aid from reaching Gaza". He said the international community must "stop the Israeli aggressive actions".
In 2008, several international ferries succeeded in docking at Gaza's fishing harbour, a year after Israel imposed a strict ground and naval blockade on Gaza to isolate Hamas.
However, following the three-week Operation Cast Lead between 2008 and 2009, Israel decided to ban all foreign ships from entering Gaza's waters.
In 2010, Israeli commandos intercepted a Turkish flotilla bound for Gaza and killed nine Pro-Palestinian Turks, tensing diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey. Following the standoff, Israel relaxed the overland closure, but kept the naval blockade tight.