SA academic in Gaza aid flotilla not on boat seized by Israelis

2015-06-29 15:25
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 - A KwaZulu-Natal University academic‚ theologian and activist - who is part of a team of activists attempting to bring aid to the Gaza Strip in Palestine by boat - was not on a vessel that was seized by the Israeli military on Monday, the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) said.

"[Reverend Clint Le Bruyn] sent us a text saying he is fine, they're not on their way to Gaza and they will update us," NC4P chairperson Reverend Edwin Arrison told News24.

Le Bruyn was not on the Marianne, one of the four boats making up the Freedom Flotilla III, which was seized by the Israeli military around 03:00 on Monday for breaking the blockade on Gaza.

According to Al Jazeera, the boat was boarded by the Israeli military about 100 nautical miles from Gaza's shore.

It had set sail from a port in Greece to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

‘Peace-loving activists’

Ismail Moola, one of the co-ordinators from the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA), confirmed that Le Bruyn was not on board the Marianne, but was on board a boat which still intended to sail to Gaza.

"We are peace-loving activists trying to make a peaceful stand against the blockade. We intended to cross into Palestinian waters, we had no intention to sail into Israeli waters."

Moola said about 25 people including delegates and crew members were on board the Marianne, which was expected to reach Ashdod, Israel around 18:00 this evening.

Moola has been co-ordinating the "Freedom Flotilla" journey from the Greek port. He said they had not been in contact with those on board the Marianne since the early hours of Monday morning.

The likelihood was that the military had confiscated all their communication devices until they reached Israeli shores, following which the group was expected to be deported, he said.

‘Demonstration of hypocrisy’

"We are hoping they [just] get deported, [because] sometimes they are arrested and interrogated before being released," Moola said.

According to Al Jazeera, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commended the Israeli navy for detaining the passengers on the ship.

"This flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting the Hamas terrorist organisation and ignores all of the horrors in our region," Netanyahu reportedly 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:    benjamin netanyahu  |  israel  |  palestine  |  middle east

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