Four Israeli warships intercepted a flotilla Tuesday that tried to challenge Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. More than a dozen unarmed people were on board, including injured protesters and cancer patients seeking medical treatment abroad. The protest coincided with the eighth anniversary of Israel’s attack on the Turkish Mavi Marmara flotilla, which killed nine activists while the boat was sailing in international waters. We speak with Ramadan al-Hayek, one of the organizers of the Gaza flotilla, and Zohar Chamberlain Regev, an Israeli citizen who is on board the Freedom Flotilla ship Al Awda (The Return), which just arrived in the port of Amsterdam. The flotilla set sail April 30 from the Norwegian port of Bergen and plans to arrive in Gaza in July.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to Gaza, where a tentative ceasefire appears to have taken hold after Hamas said it had agreed to a truce with Israel. The fighting followed a recent wave of nonviolent protests near Israel’s militarized border with Gaza, in which Israeli snipers killed 116 Palestinians and injured thousands of others. On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped short of declaring a formal ceasefire.
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] Those responsible for the escalation, inspired by Iran, are the Hamas regime, the Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist organizations. I am not detailing our plans, because I do not want the enemy to know what lies in store for him. But one thing is clear to him: When they test us, they pay immediately. And if they continue to test us, they will pay far more.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: This comes as four Israeli warships intercepted a flotilla that tried to challenge Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. More than a dozen unarmed people were on board, including injured protesters and cancer patients seeking medical treatment abroad. The protest came as Israel is constructing a fortified maritime barrier. This is Mohammed Abu Eidah, one of the flotilla participants.
MOHAMMED ABU EIDAH: [translated] We demand to break the blockade. I hope to seek medical treatment in other Arabic countries because of my injury. The attempt to sail today aims to help us break the blockade.
AMY GOODMAN: The flotilla’s attempt to break Israel’s naval blockade coincided with the eighth anniversary of Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara flotilla,