Israel Commits More Piracy

Via FreeGaza who helped with this aid shipment-

The Israeli navy has captured and diverted a ship from Lebanon carrying more than 60 tonnes of aid to the Gaza Strip.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent aboard the Al-Ikhwa (The Brotherhood) ship said the navy first opened fire, then five Israeli soldiers boarded the ship, beating and threatening the passengers.

“They are pointing guns against us – they are kicking us and beating us. They are threatening our lives,” Al Jazeera’s Salam Khoder said.

Communications with the ship broke off shortly thereafter.

According to the owner of the vessel, the Israelis destroyed its communication equipment and confiscated the phones of those on board.

The Israeli military told Al Jazeera it had captured the Lebanese vessel and taken it to Ashdod, where authorities were examining its cargo. The passengers and crew, meanwhile, were being questioned by police.

In a statement, the Israeli military said it had warned the ship on Wednesday night against entering Gaza’s coastal waters.

“During today’s morning hours, the cargo ship changed its bearing, and began heading towards the Gaza Strip …. disregarding all warnings made,” it said.

Maan Bashour, an aid co-ordinator for the group End the Blockade of Gaza, said the ship was carrying medical equipment, food supplies and books, toys and milk for small children.

“This ship was searched in Cyprus and in Lebanon,” Bashour told Al Jazeera in Beirut, Lebanon. “And we were very eager to let it be searched by Lebanese and Cypriot authorities in order that there be no reason for the Israelis to prevent it from going to Gaza.”

Foud Siniora, Lebanon’s president, condemned the attack on Al-Ikhwa, emphasising that it was on a humanitarian mission to Gaza.

“It is no surprise for Israel to perpetrate such an action as it has been accustomed to ignoring all international resolutions and values,” he said during a speech in Beirut.

“I made a number of necessary phone calls with international parties in order to exert pressures on Israel which is violating laws. I hold Israel responsible for the safety of the ship and passengers. “

Also note Israel is effectively banning Al Jazeera-

Danny Schechter: Everyone in the media world praised AlJazeera’s coverage of Gaza as fair and multi-sided with frequent appearances by Israeli officials. This is Israel’s response, a clear sign that they want to dominate the media with their perspective or else. This is consistent with a refusal to allow journalists from other media into Gaza. It shows contempt for a free media even as Israel mobilizes campaigns against media “bias.”

IMEMC: The Israeli Foreign Ministry decided to place restrictions on the Qatari based Al Jazeera Channel office staff in areas controlled by Israel, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.

The decision by Israeli is part of a government response to closing the Israeli trade office by the Qatari government in Doha last month.

Qatar closed the office to protest the Israeli offensive on Gaza which started on December 27th, and lasted for 22 days. 1,340 Palestinian were killed by the Israeli air, sea, and ground bombardment.

According to the sources, the restriction will be implemented in three steps and will be carried out in Israeli areas and Palestinian Authority controlled areas. First, Israel will not renew the visas of Al Jazeera staff that do not hold Israeli documents.

Second, the reporters of Al Jazeera will not be allowed to speak to Israeli MP’s, and will only be given access to three government spokespeople that will include the Israeli PM’s office, the Israeli Army and the Foreign Ministry.

Third, Al Jazeera reporters will have reduced accessibility to government and military bodies, and will not be allowed into briefings or press conferences.

Al Jazeera is the largest Arab satellite News Channel, and the only Arab channel that has an English TV and web service.  The Jerusalem office of Al Jazeera told IMEMC that their office has not received an official notice by the Israeli government regarding the new restrictions.

Not something the BBC will have to worry about, is it?