Monday, December 8, 2008

Gaza Fishermen Play Cat and Mouse with Israeli Navy

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, West Bank, Dec 8 (IPS) - Israeli naval commandos recently hauled off three international peace activists off Palestinian fishing boats seven nautical miles off Gaza's coast. They were accompanying 15 Palestinian fishermen attempting to complete a day's fishing without being shot at or arrested by the Israeli navy.

Darlene Wallach (57) from the U.S., Andrew Muncie (34) from Britain and Italian Vittorio Arrigoni (33), members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a pro-Palestinian rights organisation, were attempting to protect the fishermen when their three boats were surrounded by two Israeli gun boats and five smaller naval boats.

Twenty naval commandos boarded the vessels. Using tasers and guns, they forced the ISM members and Palestinian fishermen into their naval vessels. Despite being in Palestinian territorial waters, and nowhere near Israeli territorial waters, the solidarity activists were taken to a detention centre at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv from where they were subsequently deported. The Gazans were interrogated before being sent back to Gaza.

The activists had been accompanying Gaza's fishermen on daily fishing expeditions for the last few months as the fishermen played a game of cat and mouse with the Israeli navy, risking their lives and property in their attempt to eke out a living......."

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