Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Peace activists deported

Israel deports Gaza campaigners

Gaza activists boat, named Spirit of Humanity
The ship left the Cypriot port of Larnaca on Monday

Israel has deported eight pro-Palestinian activists detained at sea last week as they tried to ferry aid to Gaza in defiance of Israel's blockade.

Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire and former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was among them.

They complain the Israeli navy seized them illegally in Palestinian waters.

Israel's navy has blockaded Gaza since the election victory of Hamas militants in 2006. It said the Greek ship ignored orders to stop and was intercepted.

The crew and passengers were taken into custody last Tuesday and the ship, which had set sail from Cyprus, was impounded in the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Israel's Interior Ministry announced on Monday that the activists would be sent home after refusing to comply willingly with their deportation orders.

Officials said the three tonnes of aid would be delivered to Gaza by road once it had been checked over.

On Friday, five Bahrainis were deported after interior and foreign ministry officials touched down on Israeli soil for the first time to escort them home.

Israel has allowed several protest boats to dock in Gaza in the past year, but has blocked others.

Read more on BBC Middle East

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