6 February 2009
A group of Syrian and Lebanese aid workers have been arrested and deported from Israel.
They had been on a ship carrying essential medical aid sailing from Lebanon to Gaza. Israel – which claims to have ended its occupation of Gaza – attacked the ship in international water. (Attacking a ship outside a country’s territorial waters is an act of war).
It fired on the ship, and then its soldiers boarded it and hijacked the vessel. Some of the crew was kicked and beaten.
Israel admits it found no weapons on board the ship, which was clearly marked as an aid vessel. It has stolen the aid, and promises to take it to Gaza itself.
The Syrians were taken to the Israeli Occupied Syrian Golan Heights late last night, and handed over to the UNDOF forces and transported over the border into Syria. The Lebanese were taken to the Lebanon-Israel border, and given to UNIFIL soldiers.
Interestingly, one of the Lebanese women says she felt honoured to see Palestine. She was driven by Israeli soldiers across the country to reach the Lebanese border – and although she could only see out of a small hole, she said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and breathe Palestinian air.
Indians and British people were also aboard the ship, they are still being held in an Israeli prison. And in a weird twist on deportation laws, the former Greek Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalem has been sent to…Syria.