South Africans in Gaza aid flotilla coming home

2015-07-01 09:19
People hold the Palestinian national flag aboard a flotilla of boats during a rally to show support for activists in a fresh bid to break Israel's blockade of the territory. (Mahmud Hams, AFP)

People hold the Palestinian national flag aboard a flotilla of boats during a rally to show support for activists in a fresh bid to break Israel's blockade of the territory. (Mahmud Hams, AFP)

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Johannesburg - Two South Africans who were part of a team of activists attempting to bring aid to the Gaza Strip in Palestine by boat, will return home on Wednesday morning, the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) said.

University of KwaZulu-Natal academic‚ theologian and activist Chris Le Bruyns and Ismail Moola, one of the co-ordinators from the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA), are expected to land at OR Tambo International Airport just before 10:00.

The two were not on the vessel which was seized by the Israeli military on Monday.

"Dr Clint Le Bruyns was on-board a standby vessel, while Ismail Moola provided logistical support for three boats and 50 crew and passengers," NC4P said in a statement.

"Both Le Bruyns and Moola were representing the Palestine Solidarity Alliance."

The "Freedom Flotilla", led by The Marianna, a Swedish boat sailing to Gaza from Greece, was carrying humanitarian goods when it was intercepted.

The boat was towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod where the crew and passengers were detained in Tel Aviv, NC4P said.

25 detained

On Monday, Moola told News24 that about 25 people including delegates and crew members were on board The Marianne, which was expected to reach Ashdod, Israel around 18:00 in the evening.

According to NC4P Israeli parliamentarian Basel Ghattas, former Tunisian president Moncef Marzuki and Spanish Member of the European Parliament Ana Miranda were passengers on the boat.

Ghattas and Marzuki had been released but most of the Marianne's crew were being held in Givon prison in Israel.

"The NC4P demands that the Israeli government cease and desist the illegal detention of peaceful civilians travelling in international waters in support of humanitarian aid.

"We call on the Israeli government to immediately release the passengers and crew from The Marianne, still being held in an Israeli prison," it said.

In May 2010, nine Turkish nationals died when Israeli commandos staged a pre-dawn raid on a six-ship flotilla seeking to break the blockade. A tenth activist later died of his wounds.

Read more on:    palestine  |  israel  |  middle east peace  |  gaza

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