UK politicians call for the release of prisoners and an end to Israeli
Three human rights activists travelling with a group of Palestinian
fishermen remain in custody in Israel today after they were taken illegally
from fishing boats by the Israeli Navy on Tuesday.
Andrew Muncie from Scotland, Italian Vittorio Arrigoni, and American Darlene
Wallach, all working with International Solidarity Movement (ISM), were
surrounded by the Israeli Navy and arrested alongside 15 Palestinian
fishermen seven miles off the coast of Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip.
Since their arrival on the first voyage of Free Gaza in August, the ISM
volunteers have been accompanying Palestinian fishermen who are regularly
attacked by Israeli Navy vessels from as little as 3km from shore. They have
filmed Israeli forces using live ammunition, shells and water cannons
against unarmed fishermen (1).
Green Party MEP Dr Caroline Lucas said: “Despite worldwide condemnation,
Israel persists in flouting international human rights law through its
hugely damaging blockade of Gaza and the constant military attacks on the
“That our own Foreign Secretary is agreeing with other European leaders to
upgrade the EU’s preferential Association Agreement on trade with Israel
while Israel continues to abuse Palestinian human rights is intolerable.
Israel must release the three human rights campaigners immediately and stop
harassing and detaining Palestinian fishermen who have every right to fish
for food off the Gazan coast.”
Baroness Jenny Tonge and the Rt Hon Clare Short MP both travelled on the
Free Gaza boat trip in August and today sent messages of support to the
campaigners and to the Palestinians in Gaza.
Baroness Tonge said: "The time has come for the international community, and
especially the European Union to take action against Israel's consistent
breaking of international law. The EU-Israel Association Agreement should be
suspended until Israel complies with this law.
“It was only last week that I personally met with the fishermen whose boats
are illegally water-cannoned and fired upon by Israeli gunboats as they
peacefully fish in Gaza waters. The human rights observers who were taken
unlawfully by Israel should be released immediately."
Rt Hon Clare Short MP commented: " If there is to be any hope of peace in
the Middle East, international law must be upheld. This means that the siege
of Gaza must be lifted and the constant attacks by the Israeli navy on Gazan
“Those who have been arrested must be released and the UK must insist that
these illegal attacks on Gazans, fishing peacefully within their own waters,
The three international Human Rights Observers (HROs) have now been moved to
Maasiyahu prison in Israel and continue to face deportation, which they had
pledged to resist until the Palestinian fishermen were released. Mr Muncie
had begun a hunger strike in protest at the treatment of the fishermen by
the Israeli authorities (2).
News of the arrests comes as UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressed
fears for the Palestinians suffering the severe economic consequences of the
ongoing Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip (3).
Notes to Editors