Flotilla to attempt to enter Israel through “blockade”; Israeli Arab MK reports intentions to join flotilla; Israeli Arab MK Zoabi thrown out of House Committee meeting Tuesday on flotilla following altercation
A three-ship flotilla has been organized by Swedish pro-Palestinian activists to attempt to illegally enter the Gaza Strip. The flotilla will leave from Greece and is expected to enter Israel’s shores in the coming days.
An Arab-Israeli Member of Knesset (Parliament) Basel Ghattas, reported that he intends to join the flotilla, reports claiming that academics, physicians and artists will be aboard the flotilla with humanitarian supplies.
Ghattas stated on his decision to join the flotilla to European media that, “There is no reason to prevent us from reaching Gaza and administering the aid that we are bringing with us. I call on you to instruct the Israeli Defense Forces to stay away from the flotilla and allow us safe passage. Taking over the ships and preventing them from reaching Gaza will only embroil Israel in another international crisis, for which you and your government will bear responsibility.”
He added that the flotilla “includes people who want to administer aid, mainly medical. It’s a flotilla of peace, and not violence. To those who criticize me I say: Why don’t you join me? Why aren’t Israelis who are worried about a renewed outbreak of hostilities joining me in order to end the severe blockade of Gaza?” adding that the flotilla’s goals are to “try to force international pressure on Israel to change its policies. If the current situation continues, the next outbreak of violence is only a matter of time.”
In a meeting of Israel’s House Committee Tuesday, Member of Knesset and also of the Joint Arab Party, Haneen Zoabi, was removed from the meeting following an altercation in which she stated her support for Ghattas and the flotilla, even stating she intended to join the illegal flotilla.
Zoabi was a part of the Mavi Marmara flotilla organized through Turkey five years ago. The flotilla illegally entered Israel’s shores refusing Israel’s Navy’s demand it enter through Ashdod, an Israeli port city.
The IDF and Israeli Navy attempted to board the flotilla when they were attacked by knives, chains, pipes and stun grenades. Israeli forces were able to stop the flotilla, but nine activists were killed in conflict with IDF forces.