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Activists: Israel deports remaining Gaza flotilla detainees

Nov. 11, 2011 3:05 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 12, 2011 11:49 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities deported the last detainees seized from two Gaza-bound ships a week ago, activists said on Friday.

Nine of the activists left for their countries Friday morning, spokeswoman for the activists Huwaida Arraf said, noting that among them was Irish Member of the European Parliament Paul Murphy.

On Thursday, five Irish activists and British journalist Hasan Ghani were also deported, clearing Israeli jails of the 27 passengers who attempted to break Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip last Friday.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern over Ghani's continued detention, after three other journalists aboard the ships were freed earlier in the week.

"Journalists have a legitimate function. Israel must return the journalists' equipment and footage and allow them to carry out their job," Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said in a press statement.

Israeli commandos boarded the Irish-flagged Saoirse (Freedom) and the Canadian ship Tahrir (Liberation) in international waters off the Gaza Strip before the navy escorted them to the port of Ashdod.

Israel tightened a maritime and land blockade on the coastal strip of 1.6 million people after Hamas took power in 2007.
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