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Activist boat 'Gaza's Ark' severely damaged by explosion
Published Tuesday 29/04/2014 (updated) 29/04/2014 15:43
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Palestinian fishermen work to transform a large fishing boat into
"Gaza Ark" in Gaza City. (AFP/Mohammad Abed, File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An improvised cargo ship built by fishermen and international activists was hit by an explosion in Gaza City early Tuesday, the Gaza's Ark initiative said in a statement.

At 3:45 a.m., a guard on board the boat received a call that the boat would be attacked, the statement said.

The guard left, but returned after nothing happened. Then an explosion occurred that caused the boat to sink.

No injuries were reported, but the boat was extensively damaged, the statement said. The perpetrators behind the attack remain unidentified and their motives unclear.

The boat, named Gaza's Ark, was set to bring Palestinian products from Gaza to Europe in protest against Israel's economic blockade on the coastal enclave.

"Gaza's Ark and all our partners in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition are considering our next move in response to this cowardly act of terrorism," David Heap of Gaza's Ark Steering Committee said in the statement.

"But our position remains clear: Neither this nor any other attack will stop our efforts to challenge the blockade of Gaza until it ends."

"This attack comes as we were almost ready to sail," said Ehab Lotayef, another member of the Steering Committee. "You can sink a boat but you can't sink a movement."

The boat was set to sail in spring 2014, the organization said in November.

If Gaza's Ark set sail to Europe, it would mark the first time goods from Gaza have been exported by sea since the signing of the 1994 Oslo Accords.

In May 2010, nine Turkish activists were killed during an Israeli raid on a six-ship flotilla trying to reach Gaza in defiance of the blockade.

Although the international outcry which followed the deadly raid forced Israel to significantly ease the terms of its blockade on Gaza, tight curbs remain in place on exports and travel.

Under the terms of the current restrictions, Gaza fishermen are not allowed to enter waters more than three nautical miles from the shore, with naval patrol boats firing at those who enter "unauthorized fishing areas."

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel since 2006. The blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of the West Bank.

The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.
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1 ) Bemused / New Zealand
29/04/2014 12:22
Why did the guard leave the boat when it was threatened? He should have called the police, and Gaza Ark organisers, and stayed with it until they arrived - or was he part of the plot?

2 ) sunshine / phil
29/04/2014 14:27
the act is against peace,where is us,eu now

3 ) Catron / Uk
29/04/2014 17:17
Yet there are no photos of the explosion. Does that make people stop and wonder? Gaza ark project ran out of money months ago . Is this just a publicity stunt?

4 ) Robert / US
29/04/2014 23:31
To hold a people in an open air prison in their own country is EVIL , AND MUST BE DESTROYED.

5 ) Charlie / Sweden/Gaza
30/04/2014 21:27
#3, I know that you have cameras everywhere in London, filming Everything, but that is not the case here. So to get a photo of an explosion, in a harbour at 3.45AM, would be more suspicious then not getting it. And no, they didn?t run out of Money, in fact, Money is still coming in.

6 ) nevermind / uk
01/05/2014 16:11
Another act of cowardice by the stooges upholding an apartheid regime, now openly acting up since Palestinians united. Rebuild the boat, don't let these buggers get you down.
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