Israel Releases Gaza Ship Detainees

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Eighteen activists and crew members of a Lebanese vessel detained by Israel after trying to dock in Gaza have been released, all to different destinations.

Though claiming to be transporting 60,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza -- food, medicine, and toys and 10,000 units of plasma, IDF (Israel Defense Forces) troops found 150 bottles of mineral water and about 85 pounds of food and medicine on board.

The "Brotherhood Ship," flying under the flag of the West African nation of Togo, was jointly dispatched by the Lebanese-based Palestinian National Committee against the Siege and the US-based Free Gaza Movement.

Among the ship's passengers was former Archbishop of Jerusalem Monsignor Hilarion Capucci, who was arrested in 1974 for smuggling weapons from Lebanon to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

Capucci was released after serving three years of a 12-year-sentence in deference to a request by the Vatican.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora condemned Israel's actions.

"Those who commit massacres against innocent civilians in Lebanon and Gaza will not stop themselves from assaulting, in front of the world, a ship carrying humanitarian supplies," Siniora told the press.

"I express my utmost condemnation for this blatant attack," the Lebanese prime minister said.

Israel rejected reports that the Israeli navy fired on the ship -- other then shooting warning shots in the air when the ship turned around and headed back for Gaza.

One reporter from the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television network claimed IDF officers beat them up.

"They are opening fire toward the vessel. There are Israeli soldiers who have actually boarded the vessel," he reported by cell phone.

"Three of them are pointing their weapons at us. They are beating those on the vessel. They are beating and kicking us," he shouted hysterically over the phone.

The majority of the 20 passengers on board were from various media organizations.

Source: Haaretz

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