#FreedomFlotilla: Israel stops al-Awda medical aid boat entering Gaza

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Pierre Stambul, co-president of the French Jewish Union for Peace, told AFP that one of the three vessels in the so-called "Freedom Flotilla", called al-Awda in Arabic (The Return), were scheduled to arrive off Gaza's shores as early as Sunday.

Unite expects Mike Treen to be deported back to New Zealand in the next week, although in 2010 the Freedom Flotilla was viciously attacked by Israeli commandos and ten activists were murdered, with "circumstances of the killing of at least six of the passengers were in a manner consistent with an extra-legal, arbitrary and summary execution" according to a United Nations report. "Apparently a normal security measure", he said.

The Israeli military said troops opened fire to hold off thousands of Palestinians, some of whom threw rocks and rolled burning tyres at the border fence in attempts to sabotage it. "The boat is being towed to the port of Ashdod at this time". The convoy, which was part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, was headed for Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid.

Those on board the ships include Prof. They include Singaporean independent film-maker Jason Soo, 42, and orthopaedic surgeon Ang Swee Chai, 69, according to the activist group Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC), which organised the aid mission.

"In the last report received from the vessel, the commanding officer said four Israeli naval vessels were seen approaching".

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Palestinian protesters gather as tear gas canisters are launched by Israeli forces during a demonstration along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Gaza city on July 27, 2018. "All their belongings, including their passports have been seized and not returned, despite promises they would if they co-operated", said Hehir.

Protesters demand the "right of return" to their homes and villages in historical Palestine, from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

The Gaza health ministry said 154 Palestinians have been killed since the protests began March 30.

Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after the Islamic militant group Hamas took over the territory in 2007. It says the blockade is in place in order to prevent weapons and other military equipment from entering the Strip.

Additionally, many attempts have been made throughout the years to draw the public's attention to the on-going siege of Gaza. Two of the boats dropped out at Palermo.