After Israeli commandos swooped in to take control of a protest boat that tried to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip this week, a lot of people were wondering what humanitarian aid the vessel was carrying. The answer: two cardboard boxes’ worth.
The interception of the Swedish-registered Marianne of Gothenburg early Monday morning occurred without major incident (one activist was tased after refusing to comply with the boarding party) and there were no injuries, the IDF said.
Once commandos took control of the boat, it was towed to the Israeli port city of Ashdod.
Speaking after the event, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared “there was no aid on board,” but William Booth of the Washington Post reported Wednesday that the trawler may have indeed been carrying humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
— William Booth (@BoothWilliam) July 1, 2015
Ann Ighe, a member of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, sent Booth a photograph to prove that the boat really was delivering supplies to the nearly two million people in Gaza: one solar panel and one nebulizer, a small device used to inhale medication, which she said was donated by the Swedish Association of Midwives.
“Last but not least,” Ighe asserted, “the boat is cargo in herself, bound to be donated to a fishermen’s organization in Gaza.”
The activists, including Israeli parliamentarian MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List), had vowed not to use violence against the IDF forces, but to practice “passive resistance” when the boat was boarded.
Flotilla organizers confirmed at the time that the three other boats accompanying the Marianne had turned back to their ports of origin without explaining why, and that the Marianne had sailed toward Gaza on its own.
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas wrested control of the Strip in a bloody coup, ousting the Palestinian Authority leadership, for fear of weaponry being smuggled in. Hamas is avowedly committed to the destruction of Israel.