Israeli marine arrests int'l activists, Palestinian fishermen in Gaza waters

Israel Materials 18 November 2008 15:21 (UTC +04:00)

Israeli naval forces on Tuesday held 15 Palestinian fishermen and three international activists offshore to the west of Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources said.

The three campaigners, Andrew Muncie from Scotland, Vittorio Arrigoni from Italy and Dalin Gulack from the United States, are members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), according to the sources  reported Xinhua.

Fedaa Qastal, ISM coordinator in Gaza, confirmed that the Israeli gunboats intercepted the Palestinian fishing boats at 7 mile offshore and ordered the boats' engines to turn off before arresting the campaigners and the fishermen.

The activists used to accompany the fishermen to encourage them sailing beyond two nautical miles, the last point at which Israel allows the Palestinian fishermen to reach.

Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip since Islamic Hamas movement won parliamentary elections in 2006 and tightened the closure last year after Hamas seized security installations in the territory by force.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces also detained 32 Palestinians during raids into several towns in the West Bank.

Most of the arrests took place in Hebron and Nablus, according to Palestinian security sources.

The new arrests occurred one day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met in Jerusalem Monday to discuss peace talks between the two sides, during which Olmert promised to release 250 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture.