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Israel deports Tunisia ex-president after forcefully blocking Gaza flotilla

Palestinian children protest against the Israeli blockade of the Third Gaza Freedom Flotilla [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 30 June, 2015

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Israel deported a number of members on board the flagship of a Gaza-bound flotilla, which attempted to break the Israeli siege on Gaza, after seizing it the day before.
Israel deported Tunisian ex-president Moncef Marzouki and European parliament member Ana Miranda on Tuesday after forcefully seizing the flotilla they took part in which was attempting to break the Israeli siege on Gaza.

Israel on Monday seized the Swedish-flagged Marianne of Gothenburg, part of the Freedom Flotilla III, detaining all on board. The ship was then accompanied to the port of Ashdod as concerns mounted for campaigners on board.

     The Freedom Flotilla achieved its main goal - to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which is a result of Israel's siege of the Strip
The Freedom Flotilla coalition released a statement Monday saying "three Israeli navy boats had surrounded the Marianne ship in international waters" shortly after which they had lost contact.

Sixteen foreign nationals were on board along with two Israelis, including Palestinian-Israeli MP Basel Ghattas and a television reporter.

The former president of Tunisia arrived in Paris at dawn and was met at the airport by coalition members. He stated that he will "participate in the next Freedom Flotilla ship".

A member of the Freedom Flotilla coalition said Marzouki's participation "reflects his humane and moral dedication to the siege".

An online petition calling for the release of the Flotilla activists has also started, urging for Israel to let them pass to Gaza.

The Marianne was part of a four-boat flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists who had been seeking to reach the Gaza Strip to highlight the inhumane and illegal Israeli blockade of the territory.

Speaking after being released from brief police custody Monday night, Ghattas condemned Israel's illegal commandeering of the ship, which took place in international waters.

"In the end, we see the Freedom Flotilla III achieved its main goal - to draw local and global attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which is a result of Israel's siege of the Strip," he said.

Ghattas, who could face a parliamentary hearing on whether he should face sanctions, said he believed the attempt and Israeli operation to stop it would spur "activists from around the world to bring flotilla after flotilla, until the blockade on Gaza is removed."

The activists' campaign came as Israel faced heavy international pressure over its actions in Gaza, with a UN report last week saying both Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes during a 50-day conflict in the besieged coastal enclave last summer.

The reconstruction of thousands of homes destroyed during the fighting between Israel and Hamas, Gaza's Islamist de facto rulers, is yet to begin, and both Israel's blockade and a lack of support from international donors have been blamed.

In 2010, 10 Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara were killed in an Israeli raid on a six-ship flotilla.

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