Israel Blocks Israeli Politicians from Sending Aid to Gaza

9 December 2008

Internal Israeli politics are always complicated, but rarely as bizarre as incidents such as the blocking of the “‘Eid Boat” from going to Gaza with food, toys, and medical supplies, which was organized in part by Palestinian-Israeli members of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. A boat filled with aid and toys was set to launch from the Jaffa port outside of Tel Aviv. It was named the “‘Eid Boat” because of ‘Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holiday Monday. The contents of the boat were confiscated and 3 crewmen were arrested by Israeli police. All of Gaza’s crossings have been closed to aid for over a month and the UN reported Sunday that food supplies would begin running out in 2-3 days. Israel has now stopped 3 boats filled with aid in the last 2 weeks. 1 cargo ship from Libya, filled with 3 tons of food and medical supplies, was routed en route to Gaza by the Israeli Navy in a move that Libya called “piracy”. The ship was diverted to Europe as Libya called for an emergency UN Security Council session to attempt to force Israel to allow the ship to land amidst increasing international condemnation of the Gaza blockade. Qatar also planned to send a ship full of aid, but was denied permission by the Israeli government. Though three boats from the Free Gaza Movement have been allowed into Gaza carrying international activists, all attempts to bring in meaningful amounts of aid have been rejected by the Israeli government. Palestinian National Initiative leader Mustafa Barghouti said that the closure of Gaza, even to UN aid, is cleary a form of collective punishment of the 1.5 million civilian residents of the Gaza Strip.