Plea for help from NZ protester on board 'hijacked' Gaza peace boat

Charity umbrella group says Israeli forces "hijacked" the ship carrying medical aid for Palestinians in Gaza which is under Egypt and Israel-imposed land, air and sea blockade since 2007.

From 2008 through 2016, global activists have sailed 31 ships to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.

Israeli Ynet news reports that Shapirahas said, "Our goal is to lift the blockade over Gaza".

Following Al Awda was a Swedish- flagged yacht called Freedom Italy, with 36 activists from 15 different countries, said Zaher Birawi, head of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza based in London.

The flotilla was organized by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, an umbrella of organizations aiming to end the closure of Gaza, and set sail from the Danish port of Copenhagen.

One of the Freedom Flotilla ships was previously attacked by Israeli forces in worldwide waters in 2010.

The Israeli army said in a statement it had monitored and intercepted the vessel in accordance with global law, and that any humanitarian assistance that the boat was carrying would be delivered to Gaza.

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"We expect the New Zealand government to strongly protest and demand his immediate release, along with his fellow campaigners and the Al Awda so they can deliver the much needed medical aid to the port of Gaza". He boarded the Al Awda in Palermo, Sicily for the final 1,000 miles to Gaza and is now in Israeli custody.

The Israeli military said troops opened fire to hold off thousands of Palestinians, some of whom threw rocks and rolled burning tyres at the border fence in attempts to sabotage it. However, the first democratically government of Palestine was not recognised by U.S. and Israel.

The IDF carried out a strike on a target in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip in the early hours of Sunday - according to local sources which also claimed two people were killed in the strike.

By far, the biggest flotilla to sail for Gaza was in 2010, when six ships sailed for Gaza headed by the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-registered vessel.

Israeli naval forces on Sunday intercepted a ship bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip, according to organizers.

About 148 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire during the rallies which peak every Friday.

While many foreign powers have censured Israel's handling of Gaza, the United States has echoed its blaming of Hamas.

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