The ships which broke the Israeli blockade of Gaza have announced their intent to hoist anchor and return to Cyprus tomorrow morning. With them, they plan to take 14 Palestinians including students accepted to universities abroad and a professor who has not been able to take up his teaching post in Europe due to the Israeli siege.
Just as Israel faced a dramatic decision when the ships were steaming toward Gaza, it faces another as they leave, since they once again will be breaking the travel ban which prevents almost all Gazans from exiting their living prison:
Two boats full of international activists that were allowed to sail into Gaza’s harbor on Saturday may be detained by the navy on Thursday as they set sail back to Cyprus, this time with 14 Palestinians on board.
On Wednesday, the Free Gaza Movement held a press conference in Gaza City to announce the departure of the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty early Thursday morning. In addition to the 40 foreign activists, organizers said, the boats would also be carrying some 14 Palestinians who had previously been denied the right to exit Gaza by Israel.
The organizers said that among the Palestinians were students with valid foreign visas or dual citizenships who had been accepted to universities abroad. Additionally, a Palestinian professor will be leaving to return to teach in Europe, and a young woman will be trying to reunite with her husband abroad.
Once again, the government seems confused about how to react to such non-violent resistance:
Government officials in Jerusalem and the Defense Ministry said they were closely monitoring the situation and by Wednesday evening they had yet to publicize their decision. It was possible that the navy would interdict the boats and at the least inspect the passengers to ensure that none of them posed a security threat to Israel.
Why would the navy need to “interdict” ships leaving Gaza and steaming away from Israel to determine whether they “posed a security threat to Israel?” As with much of Israeli government thinking, this one is a bit hard to fathom.