Activists play chicken with Israeli navy off Gaza coast

By Hidayat al-Saidi

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – Palestinian activists on Monday staged a “maritime demonstration” near Gaza’s sea border with Israel to demand an end to Israel’s 12-year-long blockade of the coastal enclave.

Gaza’s National Committee for Breaking the Siege launched the event from the Gaza Strip’s northern coast not far from the heavily-fortified Gaza-Israel buffer zone.

More than 20 vessels of various sizes — bearing dozens of activists — took part in the event, according to an Anadolu Agency correspondent at the scene.

It was the 11th time this year for Gazan activists to hold the event, in which boats slowly approach the maritime border before hastily retreating when Israeli naval forces inevitably reply with machine-gun fire.

Israel first imposed the blockade in 2006 after Gaza-based resistance group Hamas swept Palestinian legislative elections.

The following year, Israel ratcheted up its embargo when Hamas seized the entire Gaza Strip — which it still holds today — from rival Palestinian faction Fatah.

Still in effect, the blockade has crippled Gaza’s economy, depriving the enclave’s more than two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.