Israeli police arrested a delegation of foreign activists, including a member of the Finnish parliament, while the group were attempting to break the 13-year blockade on Gaza by cutting through the Israeli “security fence” around the territory.
According to a statement from the group Gaza 2020: Breaking the Siege, a number of the group’s activists from the UK, Austria, and Denmark were arrested Monday morning while on route to Gaza.
The group, accompanied by Finnish MP Anna Kontula, were on their way to the border with the intention of cutting through the border fence. They were intercepted by Israeli police, detained, and interrogated for 10 hours.
“I’m participating in the action because the situation in Gaza is awful and needs the world’s attention,” Kntula said in a statement.
“It’s like a prison, except that in my country prisoners are [given] more food and better health care than the children in Gaza. And of course they can get out some day,” she said.
According to the group, upon their arrest, the group were told by Israeli police that “secret services had been aware of the action from tapping their phones.
Two days earlier, activists from the same group were arrested at the fence, also with the intention of cutting through it. They were held overnight, and upon release the next morning, Israeli police allegedly refused to give them back their phones and passports.
The group says they were inspired by the Free Gaza Movement, which for years has attempted to break Israel’s naval blockade on the strip.
“When comrades on the path of freedom fall we raise their torch and continue their work of solidarity,” the group said in a statement. “Yesterday’s action was the first attempt to break the siege, in solidarity with the people of Gaza. We want Gazans to know that we will not give up, that we will continue opposing this illegal and barbaric siege of innocent people.”
The group also received support from Gazan activist and founder of the Great March of Return Ahmed Abu Artema.
“We appreciate this action which aim to bring the attention for the people who suffers and struggles in the same time for freedom,” Abu Artema said in a statement,
“Gaza needs the efforts of all the people who believe in justice and freedom for everyone to make pressure against the state of Israeli Apartheid to end the policy of the collective punishments against the civilians.”
In 2015, the United Nations announced its predictions that by the year 2020, the Gaza Strip would become “uninhabitable,” due to the irreversible damage caused by Israel’s blockade and three devastating offensives on the territory.
The arrival of 2020 has given activists locally and around the world a newfound sense of urgency in their attempts to lift the siege on Gaza.
However, with almost half of the territory unemployed, an even higher percentage of those that are food insecure, and an overwhelming shortage of electricity and clean drinking water, many of Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants say they are already living in an “unlivable” situation.