Israel’s navy boarded two small protest boats trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip on Friday and towed them to an Israeli port just north of the Palestinian territory, officials said. The military said no one was hurt. Troops boarded the boats without incident after repeated calls for them to turn around were ignored, the military said. Pro-Palestinian activists have mounted numerous attempts to reach the impoverished coastal strip by boat to draw attention to the 5-year-old blockade, which they say amounts to the collective punishment of Gaza’s residents. Israel says its naval blockade is vital in preventing weapons from reaching violent groups like Hamas, the Iranian-backed militant group that rules the Gaza Strip.
Amy saw an instant message window pop up in the bottom of her screen. It was from Josh, and she took a deep breath before opening it. In the window she read: “How you doin’?”
Typing back, Amy wrote: “I’m okay… Writing an article about Israel. What are you writing about?”
Seconds later a new instant message popped up: “Three guesses.”
Amy laughed and typed back, “Greece?”
“Give the lady a prize,” Josh wrote back.
It felt good to laugh with him again. Things had been so awkward until they’d talked yesterday. After talking about how neither of them had expected the kiss the other day, Amy had admitted that she’d been having feelings for him lately, and he’d agreed that things had been confusing lately. They both decided to take some time and think about what they wanted to do. They didn’t want to make any quick decisions before exploring the idea a bit more. Amy was excited that they’d at least opened the door to talk about it.
Looking up, she saw that Josh had gone back to writing his article so she did too. Closing the window, she continued to type:
Once the two small vessels reach the port of Ashdod, the activists will be detained and asked to leave the country voluntarily from the airport near Tel Aviv. If they rescue, they can have access to a lawyer to appeal being sent home. There were 27 activists from nine countries, including the U.S. and Ireland, aboard the boats from a group called Freedom Waves to Gaza. Israel sees the attempts to break the sea blockade as provocations and publicity stunts. It says the amount of aid in the small boats used by activists is insignificant, as Israel transfers 6,000 tons of aid to Gaza daily.
The IM window popped up again and she opened it to read: “You want to get together tonight?”
“It is Friday night… That’d make it our first date, wouldn’t it?” she wrote back, smiling at him as he watched her reaction to his question.
Josh winked back as he typed: “You in? I can let you go home and then pick you up so it’ll be like a real date?”
Amy laughed, typing back: “I’m in. What time should I be ready?”
“How about I pick you up around six and we’ll go for dinner somewhere?”
“Sounds great. I should finish this article. You know where I live?”
“Give me some credit,” Josh typed back and Amy raised an eyebrow toward him. “I know where you live,” he typed.
“I won’t ask how. I’m going to finish this article and send it off to Dan. Can’t wait until tonight.”
“We still haven’t made any decisions, right? I can’t call you my girl yet, can I?”
Amy shook her head, smiling, and answered: “We’ll talk about it more tonight. Stop stalling.”
“It’s just, I feel like I’ve been reporting the same thing over and over again with this story…”
“Well, that’s the hazards of the job, Josh. Finish the article then you won’t have to think about Greece until Monday morning.”
“Yes ma’am,” he wrote back and she closed the window as she wrote the conclusion of her article:
The Israeli military issued a short video clip showing a naval official calling on the ships to turn around. “The Gaza area and coastal region are closed to maritime traffic as part of a blockade imposed for security purposes,” the unidentified officer said. “Your attempt to enter the Gaza Strip by sea is a violation of international law. We remind you that humanitarian supplies can be delivered to the Gaza Strip by land, and you are welcome to enter Ashdod port and deliver supplies through land crossings.” When asked what the boats were carrying, an activist replies “we have no cargo.” (Washington Post)
On Thursday, the Obama administration warned U.S. citizens on the boats that they may face legal action for violating Israeli and American law. The U.S., like Israel and the European Union, considers Hamas a terrorist organization.