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15 Gazan fishermen released; three internationals still in custody

Nov. 19, 2008 10:11 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 19, 2008 10:11 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Fifteen Palestinian fishermen who were seized by Israeli naval forces off the coast of Gaza were released on Wednesday.

The fishermen were arrested along with three international volunteers in Palestinian territorial waters on Tuesday. The three foreign nationals, and the boats, have yet to be released.

According to the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, the foreigners, Andrew Muncie from Scotland, Darlene Wallach from the United States and Vittorio Arrigoni from Italy, are still being held at in Ben Gurion detention facility and are facing deportation.

Two British politicians condemned the arrests on Tuesday night.

"I have contacted Foreign Minster Mark Malloch Brown and asked him to take action to challenge these arrests and demand the release particularly of the UK citizen," said MP Clare Short.

"If there is to be any hope of peace in the Middle East, international law must be upheld. This means that the siege of Gaza must be lifted and the constant attacks by the Israeli navy on Gazan fishermen halted," added Short.

"The time has come for the international community, and especially the European Union to take action against Israel's consistent breaking of international law. The EU-Israel Association Agreement should be suspended until israel complies with this law," said Baroness Jennifer Tonge.

Short and Tonge were among a group of European parliamentarians who sailed to Gaza earlier this month in defiance of the Israeli blockade of the territory.

The international volunteers, who also sailed to the Strip, are part of a program of accompaniment for Gazan fishermen who face frequent harassment from the Israeli Navy.

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