Israeli soldiers boarded two ships heading to Gaza earlier today. The Canadian ship Tahrir (Liberation) and Irish Saoirse (Freedom) were en route to Gaza in an attempt to break the Israeli siege on it. Journalists reported on Twitter that naval Israeli commandos intercepted the vessels in international waters, off the Gaza coast, arresting the activists and journalists on board and taking them to the Ashdod port in Israel.
On YouTube, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has released a video entitled IDF Soldiers board the vessels en-route to the Gaza Strip.
The flotilla, named Freedom Waves, was kept under wraps until just before it set off from a Turkish port on its way to Gaza, two days ago. In addition to activists, the two boats which carry humanitarian aid, also has journalists on board.
Journalist Alan Fisher reports:
@AlanFisher: Israeli naval forces board 2 boats heading for #gaza foiling the latest attempt to break the four-year Israeli blockade of the territory.
@AlanFisher: The Israeli boarding of the two vessels took place in international waters
Support is also pouring in for Egyptian journalist Lina Attalah, who was on board the Tahrir. Egyptian Amr Gharbeia tweets:
@gharbeia: Thinking of @Linaattalah and all those detained on #freedomwaves boats, now detained by Israel
Mohamed Abdelffath adds:
@mfatta7: Egyptian journalist @Linaattalah who is managing editor of @AlMasryAlYoum_E was on boat Tahrir and now detained by Israel at Asdod port
Salma Said asks:
@salmasaid: What is the egyptian gov going to do about #freelina?
And Tunisian Slim Amamou continues:
@slim404: My friend @linaattalah has been arrested by Israelis during #freedomwaves she's using @alaa avatar in support to #freealaa #freelina
Jordanian Shaden Abu Al-Haijaa appeals to Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff, who has drawn cartoons to support the Palestinian cause and Arab revolutions, for a drawing:
@Shad84: @CarlosLatuff please draw something about #FreedomWaves and detaining activists who were on board! @Linaattalah
Meanwhile, Israeli journalist Joseph Dana sums up today's operation as follows:
@ibnezra: The simple facts of the matter reveal that the Israeli army has illegally taken #FreedomWaves activists to Israel against their will.
He also notes:
@ibnezra: Imagine you wanted to go to Canada & the US navy stopped you, arrested you & then charged you with illegal entry into the US #FreedomWaves
@Ibnezra: The Israeli army will take #FreedomWaves activists directly to jail inside Israel, likely to be charged with ‘illegal entry to Israel’
And needless to say, Israel's continuation of its siege on Gaza is not sitting well with Arab netizens.
@iRevolt: The #Gaza Strip is the worlds largest open air prison; Israel has deprived 1.6 million people of their liberty and basic human rights.
For more reactions on the story, check out the hash tag #Freedomwaves on Twitter.