Reuters is reporting that the lead ship of the Third Gaza flotilla has been denied access to Gaza and was diverted to an Israeli port by Israeli naval forces. According to the report:
June 29, 2015 Israeli forces boarded a boat leading a protest flotilla of foreign activists to the blockaded Palestinian enclave of Gaza on Monday and forced it to sail to an Israeli port, the Israeli military said.
Activists said the boat also carried a group of journalists and politicians, among them former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki and a European Parliament lawmaker for Spain.
Israeli troops boarded the boat in international waters then searched and seized it, an Israeli military statement said. No bloodshed was reported.
The flotilla was the latest in a series of such voyages across the Mediterranean in protest against Israel’s nine-year blockade of Islamist Hamas-dominated Gaza.
In 2010, Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists when they commandeered their vessel in the Mediterranean Sea, causing a diplomatic row between Turkey and Israel.
The Israeli statement said: ‘After exhausting all diplomatic channels the Israeli government ordered the Israeli Navy to redirect the vessel in order to prevent breach of the naval blockade.’
It said troops searched the vessel and then escorted it to the Israeli port of Ashdod. The passengers would be handed over to immigration authorities and deported.”
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According to a passenger list published by the flotilla organizers, only the following are known at this time to be tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood:
- Ammar Al-Hamdan (Norway, likely related to Norwegian Hamas activist Mohammad Hamdan)
- Ehab Lotayef Canada, (close to the Muslim Brotherhood
- Abouzaid El Mokrie El Idrissi (Morocco / Party of Justice)
Last month, the GMBDW reported that the Third Gaza Flotilla would be setting sail from Greece.
In May, the GMBDW reported details on the latest Gaza flotilla that was expected to sail this summer and which was said to include three ships. At that time, the flotilla coordinator was identified as Zaher Birawi, a spokesperson for the International Committee to Break the Siege of Gaza and and a long time media and public relations spokesperson for the Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB) , a part of the UK Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas support infrastructure. Mr. Birawi is also a director of the Palestine Return Centere (PRC) which has strong ties to Hamas and to the Global Muslim Brotherhoo and in July 2012, we reported on a meeting with Hamas leaders that included Mr. Birawi. The GMBDW reported in July 2010 that the International Committee to Break the Siege of Gaza was a Hamas front organization led by former Hamas commander and UK Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Sawalha.
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