By Asa Winstanley – London
Activists with the Freedom Flotilla Coalition on Monday said the so-called Gaza’s Ark, which was bombed two weeks ago while docked in Gaza City, would now set sail for Europe in autumn.
While strongly implicating Israel as the culprit behind the attack, activists at a press conference in London said it was still too soon to draw firm conclusions. The boat’s journey to the continent aimed to challenge Israel’s blockade on Gaza.
Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip have yet to conclude their investigation, the activists said.
Gaza Ark spokesperson Ehab Lotayef emphasized that “everybody knows which entity” is enforcing the blockade on Gaza. The accompanying press release stated that “the materials which were used in the attack are not readily found in Gaza”. They said they had originally hoped to have more concrete results from the investigation in Gaza in time for Monday.
The boat had been due to sail 16 June from a port in Gaza to Europe before it was attacked on 29 April, “extensively damaging the hull of the boat”. The effort represents a new tactic by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition which has, since 2008, attempted to sail several boats from Europe into the Gaza to break the Israel-imposed siege on the coastal strip.
Spokesperson Lotayef also handed out at the press conference copies of a story by Jewish American blogger Richard Silverstein claiming that Israeli navy commandos from Shaytet 13 had bombed the boat. Shaytet 13 is the same deadly unit that in 2010 hijacked Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara, killing nine Turkish activists, including one Turkish-American child.
Robert Naiman, one of the activists, today slipped and called the bombing an “Israeli attack” before correcting himself when questioned by Middle East Eye, saying it was a “terrorist attack”.
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition said it would continue efforts to break the siege on Gaza and hopes to raise funds and awareness on 31 May, an “international day of action” (the anniversary of the deadly 2010 attack).
The Israeli embassy did not return a request for comment.
(Middle East Eye – www.middleeasteye.net)