Latest Gaza aid boat impounded by Israel

Holocaust survivor Reuven Moskovitz

Holocaust survivor Reuven Moskovitz

A small boat attempting to bring aid to Gaza  was captured by the Israeli navy on Tuesday morning. In a statement, the navy said the interception took place "without incident", but people on board say they were treated very roughly. All their cameras were confiscated. The boat was towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Organisers of the voyage said that before the 10m (32-foot) catamaran  Irene was  boarded, it was blocked by an Israeli warship and trailed by several smaller boats, including one with machine-guns mounted on the front and back.

The Irene set sail from northern Cyprus on Sunday, carrying medical equipment, school books, fishing nets and children's toys. The voyage was organised by the London-based Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

On board were 82-year-old Holocaust survivor Reuven Moskovitz and Rami Elhanan, an Israeli whose daughter Smadar was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber in Jerusalem in 1997. Others included a German nurse, British and US peace activists, and an Israeli reporter.

Israeli Activist Itamar Shapira said today that his brother, Yonatan, a former Israeli helicopter pilot well known for being a conscientious objector,  was shocked with a Taser gun while passively resisting arrest by sitting down and embracing another passenger.

Itamar said his brother was shocked with a Taser gun, which made his head an legs "bounce around".  He added that the boat's 67-year-old captain was also knocked over.

On Tuesday, three independent experts leading a UN investigation into the Israeli raid on the Turkish flotilla censured Israel for seizing and "suppressing" all media materials from passengers on those ships.

Three of the four foreign nationals on Tuesday's boat were deported, said activist spokeswoman Miri Weingarten. Another will be deported in the next few days.

Today, (Wednesday), Israel's Supreme Court halted a government order to deport Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who tried to reach Gaza on a similar blockade-busting vessel in June. After capturing that ship, Israel detained and deported her and other activists on board.

Maguire's lawyer, Fatmeh el-Ajou, said Israel stopped her client from entering Israel when she arrived Tuesday at Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv because of her previous deportation.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said those deported from Israel cannot return for ten years, except with prior coordination, which Maguire did not have. "She was told that before and she came here anyway," Haddad said.

The court ruled that Maguire could not be deported until after a judge rules on her appeal Friday. She remains in an airport lockup. 

Maguire, 66, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work with Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

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