Palestinian flotilla intercepted by Israeli naval forces

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Palestinian flotilla intercepted by Israeli naval forces

Israeli naval forces on Tuesday intercepted a Palestinian flotilla which was launched from Gaza to protest Israel’s blockade off the coastal enclave.

The move could raise tensions following a barrage of mortars earlier in the day fired into Israel from Gaza resistance fighters.

CGTN’s Noor Harazeen reports from Gaza.

A Palestinian boat accompanied by a group of smaller vessels embarked from Gaza on Tuesday, in a bid to break the more than decade-long Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The boats carried a group of about 18 people, including protesters wounded in recent demonstrations along the Gaza border with Israel. Among them, students and patients with cancer.

“I participated to be able to travel and get a good medical treatment. I just want to live a normal life. Here in Gaza, we don’t have much medical supplies or medicine. We live in a very big prison,” wounded Palestinian Raed Deeb said.

The main boat reportedly sailed past the maritime blockade reaching 12 nautical miles on its way to Europe.  However, it was intercepted by Israeli naval forces, which fired warning shots. The passengers were arrested and taken to Israel’s Ashdod naval base. They will be returned to Gaza.

The International Coordinating Committee for the Great Return March said the effort to break the blockade coincides with the anniversary of the Israeli naval attack on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship in 2010.

“It’s the time to lift the siege. For eleven-and-a-half years, the people of Gaza are being subjected to this border closure and living in misery. This journey in the sea is sending a great message. There are students who have been prevented from attending their universities abroad, and also wounded people,” International Coordinating Committee for the Great Return March, Essam Hamad said.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Israeli warplanes carried out air strikes in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip targeting Islamic Jihad and Hamas positions. This was in response to a mortar barrage fired from Gaza into southern Israel earlier in the day.