A senior Palestinian official has censured Israel for intercepting an all-women flotilla en route the Gaza Strip which is under a decade-long blockade.
Israeli troops stopped the the Zaytouna-Oliva flotilla, crewed by 13 women, some 35 miles from Palestinian waters on Wednesday.
The flotilla, which set sail from Spain on September 14, was redirected to the port of Ashdod and the activists were taken for interrogation.
Secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat denounced the Israeli “aggression” and demanded an immediate release of the women.
He called on the governments of Spain, Sweden, Norway, Australia and Canada, where the crew hail from, to immediately intervene to prevent Israel from harming the rights of their citizens.
The Israeli seizure dampened hopes among a group of Palestinians who had gathered on the beach to welcome the boat.
Mairead Maguire, the Nobel peace laureate from Northern Ireland who is on board the flotilla, said they were expecting to be “intercepted by the Israeli occupation forces.”
In 2015, when the “Women’s Boat” attempted to deliver humanitarian aid to the coastal enclave, the Israeli naval forces boarded the vessel and forced it to change route.
A similar attempt by a Turkish flotilla resulted in the death of 10 activists in 2010, when Israeli commandos attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea. They also injured about 50 other activists.
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.
Israel has also waged three wars on Gaza since 2008, including the 2014 offensive, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead and over 11,100 others injured.
By Press TV