At 11:30am on Tuesday, 10 July 2018, a humanitarian boat carrying patients and other Palestinians needing to travel sailed from Gaza seaport into the Mediterranean in a challenge to Israel’s 11 year-long blockade. The Commission of Great March of Return and the National Movement to Break the Siege had previously announced their preparation of the fleet, calling it the Freedom and Anti-Blockade Fleet - 2. Onboard were nine Palestinians: four patients and one patient companion, two students, and two ship members. Despite its pure humanitarian purpose, the fleet was nonetheless intercepted and seized by Israeli naval forces.
According to one passenger, who was released after the boat was seized, when the boat was about 12 nautical miles into the sea, three Israeli warships and five more inflatable ships circulated and seized it. Israeli media sources have reported that Israeli forces took passengers to Ashdod seaport.
At 9:40pm on the same day, Israeli forces released seven passengers, keeping two: Khaled Al-Hissi, 30-year old ship captain, and his 19-year old assistant, Mohammed Al-Hissi
Al Mezan condemns the interception and seizure of the boat. Al Mezan stresses that prolonged blockade and collective punishment measures have only accelerated the rate at which human rights and the humanitarian situation in Gaza is deteriorating. These unlawful measures have resulted with serious human rights violations so serious that they are rendering the Gaza Strip unable to support dignified human life.
Therefore, Al Mezan calls on the international community, led by the high contracting parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to take prompt and effective actions to pressure Israeli authorities to end the blockade, including through activating tools of accountability and holding responsible sponsors of and accomplices in grave breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.