The "Free Gaza" movement is raising the stakes with a new vessel from Lebanon that will try and run the Gaza blockade in January. Meanwhile, Israel arrested an inter-married Israeli woman who founded a pro-Arab activist organization.
Neta Golan, 38, attempted to leave Gaza through the Erez Crossing on Monday after arriving in the region Saturday on the SS Dignity, a Qatari ship which sailed from Cyprus. The vessel, which carried a Qatari delegation, Lebanese activists and journalists from Israel and Lebanon, was the fifth boat to be sent to the region organized by the "Free Gaza" movement.
Golan, a Palestinian Authority resident and co-founder of the pro-Arab International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was arrested by Israeli police as she tried to cross the security barrier without proper authorization. The pro-Arab activist group loudly protested the arrest, saying she had not committed any crime.
Golan herself told reporters prior to leaving Gaza that she was felt it was her "duty" to go to Gaza "to raise awareness to Israel's actions" in the area, adding that she and other activists "broke the siege."
According to a posting on the Free Gaza movement's website, Golan "has actively resisted the occupation, participating in hundreds of demonstrations against the (Judea and Samaria security barrier –ed.) wall and the illegal settler roads. She is married and lives in Ramallah with her Palestinian husband and two children."
The next vessel to head for the region reportedly will be a cargo ship which is expected to set out from southern Lebanon on January 3, under European flags. The vessel will first sail to Cyprus, where authorities at Lanarca port will inspect its cargo, passengers and crew before it proceeds to Gaza, said Lebanese university law professor Hani Sleiman.
The waters around Gaza fall under the jurisdiction of the State of Israel, as determined under the Oslo Accords. Activists have sought to challenge Israel's sovereignty over the region and the waters around it through attempts to reach Gaza by sea since the first voyage in August 2008. More often than not, Jerusalem has opted to avoid a conflict and resultant media coverage by choosing to allow the boats to dock at the Gaza shore.
Israel and Egypt sealed the borders around Gaza since the Hamas terrorist organization seized total control of the region in its struggle with the rival Fatah faction.
Fatah has managed to retain control of the "presidency" and prime ministership of the Palestinian Authority from Ramallah, where it maintains control of Judea and Samaria.