Palestinians defy Israeli naval forces in ‘maritime demonstration’ against 12-year Gaza blockade
By Hidayat al-Saidi
GAZA CITY, Palestine
Palestinian activists on Monday staged a “maritime demonstration” near Gaza’s sea border with Israel to demand an end to Israel’s 12-year-long blockade of the coastal enclave.
Gaza’s National Committee for Breaking the Siege launched the event from the Gaza Strip’s northern coast not far from the heavily-fortified Gaza-Israel buffer zone.
More than 20 vessels of various sizes — bearing dozens of activists — took part in the event, an Anadolu Agency correspondent reported from the scene.
According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, 29 activists were injured when Israeli naval forces opened fire on the vessels as they approached the maritime border.
It was the 11th time this year for Gazan activists to hold the event, in which boats slowly approach the maritime border before hastily retreating in the face of intense machine-gun fire.
Israel first imposed its Gaza blockade in 2006 after Palestinian movement Hamas, which supports armed resistance against Israel’s decades-long occupation, swept Palestinian legislative polls.
The following year, Israel ratcheted up the blockade after Hamas seized the entire Gaza Strip — which it still holds today — from rival Palestinian faction Fatah.
Still in effect, the blockade has crippled Gaza’s economy, depriving the enclave’s more than two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.