World Bulletin / News Desk
A Palestinian-built protest boat which was being prepared to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip was blown up in the early hours of Tuesday morning, in what activists called a deliberate attack by Israel.
The fishing boat known as Gaza's Ark sank after being hit by an explosion while docked at the Gaza City port. The blast occurred shortly after an anonymous caller telephoned the guard warning that the boat was about to be destroyed, Mahfouz Kabariti told AFP.
"We blame Israel because we have had very bad experiences with them in the past when they destroyed several solidarity boats," he said, referring to the sabotaging of aid delivery boats off the coast of Greece that were destined for Gaza in 2011.
25-year-old Mustafa Abu Awad, who was guarding the boat at the time, managed to get a distance of 200 meters between himself and the boat before it exploded after being warned.
"I was sleeping near the boat and someone phoned me - an unidentified caller. I answered and he told me: 'Mustafa, leave the boat right now because we are going to blow it up.' I asked him who he was, but he hung up," he said.
The 100 passenger capacity boat, which was due to sail on June 15, was aiming to export the first goods from Gaza since 1994 Oslo peace accords and was the subject a year's worth of work by activists.
David Heap, an activist running the project, told AFP "Gaza's Ark and all our partners in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition are considering our next move in response to this cowardly act of terrorism."
"But our position remains clear -- neither this nor any other attack will stop our efforts to challenge the blockade of Gaza until it ends," he added.
Israeli naval vessels frequently set fire to fishing boats which go over the six nautical miles allocated to Gazan fishermen in order to enforce their blockade on the region and its 1.5 million residents.
The Hamas police force has said it is investigating the incident.Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Nisan 2014, 17:37