Update: 10:20 AM EST IDF reports that both ships are being towed to Ashod, Israel, where activists will be handed over to police and deported. IDF reports that there have been no injuries.
Canadian Boat to Gaza organizers are calling Israel's action an act of "piracy", noting that the ships were illegally seized in international waters. Organizers are planning solidarity actions in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver this evening. Further details will be posted at: http://tahrir.ca
Update: at 9:58 AM EST Tahrir passengers appear to have used their GPS device to send an emergency message and tweet that IDF was about to board the boat: "@CanadaBoatGaza http://fms.ws/6Nri2 IDF about to board the Tahrir"
At approximately 79 km from the Gaza shore, Canadian organizers lost contact with the Tahrir. The #freedomwave boats were still in international waters when contact was lost. Fears are that the boats have been intercepted or are being boarded by the Israeli military. The organizers for the Irish Boat to Gaza have sent out an international appeal for support: http://freegazaoz.org/breaking-israeli-forces-intercept-irish-and-canadian-boats/
The Canadian Boat to Gaza, the Tahrir, along with its sister Irish boat, MV Saoirse, set off on November 2, launching from Turkey, in the latest in a series of actions from sea attempting to break the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza. Canadians - and rabble contributors - David Heap and Ehab Latoyef, as well as Karen DeVito are among those on board. The Tahrir is carrying a value of approximately $30,000 of medical aid on their boat, however the precious cargo it carries for the Palestinians of Gaza is far more valuable: it carries hope. That hope is evidenced today as reports flow in from Gaza of Palestinian fisherman gathering at sea to welcome the freedomwaves boats.
At approximately 7AM EST Israeli authorities made contact with the Tahrir - two Israeli boats were reported sighted to the left of the Tahrir. Ehab Latoyef, from Montreal, spoke to the Israelis on the radio, they asked for the Tahrir's final destination, the first response from Ehab was: 'The conscience of humanity' and when they repeated the question again asking for final destination he said, 'The betterment of mankind'. Since then all communication with the boats have been lost.
According to a tweet from CBC reporter Sasa Petricic, who is based in Israel, Israeli military have yet to confirm whether the boats have been boarded. From twitter: "@sasapetricic #Israel military only confirm contact & telling ships that #Gaza area "under maritime security blockade in accordnce w int'l law"
Photo: David Heap prepares "This is piracy" image earlier today on board the Tahrir
Organizers are asking for the public to demand the safe passage of the boats that are part of the freedomwaves action, and the safe treatment of all members aboard. Contacts for your Member of Parliament can be found here, and a list of Israeli embassies worldwide can be found here.
More on how you can help the Canadian Boat to Gaza here.
Follow the trajectory of the Tahrir here.
The Freedom Waves to Gaza initiative is a non-violent, civil society movement to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Early this morning Dylan Penner and Wendy Goldsmith, organizers for the Canadian Boat for Gaza, issued the following statement:
“We have lost contact with the Tahrir and the Saoirse and are hoping for the best, but we fear the worst, given what now appears to be a communications blackout," Penner said. "Several regularly scheduled check-ins haven’t happened, and we have been unable to reach those aboard. Given Israel’s stated intent to illegally board the ships, it seems likely that they are doing so."
“It appears Israel has yet again illegally boarded peaceful boats sailing to Gaza through international waters. We’re deeply concerned for all our friends aboard given the Israeli government’s cavalier disregard for human life,” says Wendy Goldsmith, an organizer with the Canadian Boat to Gaza. “This is simply outrageous and will only further isolate Israel from the international community. We’re calling on people from coast to coast and around the world to take to the streets in emergency solidarity rallies. We call on the Canadian government to fulfill its obligations by protesting Israel’s illegal pirating of a Canadian ship in international waters, and to demand safety and immediate release of the delegates and property.”
For the latest updates for the Canada Boat to Gaza on twitter: http://twiter.com/CanadaBoatGaza
Photo: Tahrir activists posted these signs to welcome IDF
Photo: Flag raised on the Tahrir early on Friday
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