Israel deports Tunisia ex-president after halting Gaza bid

Israel deports Tunisia ex-president after halting Gaza bid

JERUSALEM – Agence France-Presse
Israel deports Tunisia ex-president after halting Gaza bid

AP photo

Israel deported Tunisian ex-president Moncef Marzouki and European parliament member Ana Miranda on June 30 after they took part in a flotilla seeking to defy its Gaza blockade, an official said.

“The [former] president of Tunisia and the Spanish lawmaker flew this morning. There are another 14 who have begun the expulsion process,” a spokeswoman for Israel’s immigration authority told AFP.

Israel had commandeered June 29 the Swedish-flagged Marianne of Gothenburg, part of the so-called Freedom Flotilla III, and accompanied it to the port of Ashdod.

Sixteen foreign nationals were on board along with two Israelis, Arab lawmaker Basel Ghattas and a television reporter. The two Israelis have been released, though Ghattas could face a parliamentary hearing on whether he should face sanctions.

The Marianne was part of a four-boat flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists who had been seeking to reach the Gaza Strip to highlight the Israeli blockade of the territory that they called “inhumane and illegal.”

The three other boats had turned back before the Marianne was boarded by the Israeli navy in an operation that took place without the deadly force that marred a raid to stop a similar bid in 2010.

Speaking after being released from brief police custody on June 29 at night, Ghattas condemned Israel’s “illegal” commandeering of the ship, which took place in international waters.

“In the end, we see the Freedom Flotilla III achieved its main goal - to draw local and global attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which is a result of Israel’s siege of the Strip,” he said.

In 2010, 10 Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara were killed in an Israeli raid on a six-ship flotilla.