A boat carrying nearly one hundred migrants, including dozens of Palestinians fleeing from Gaza, overturned in the Mediterranean Sea near Egypt, on Saturday, killing fifteen of those on board, according to Al-Anadolu news agency. An additional 72 passengers were rescued by the Egyptian navy.
The boat left the Egyptian shore Saturday night bound for Italy, but capsized when it hit a rock. Fifteen Palestinians from Gaza drowned, and their bodies were pulled from the sea by the Egyptian navy. The other passengers were rescued and taken to an Egyptian immigration prison.
The Palestinians who attempted to flee from the sealed, blockaded Gaza Strip had traveled via tunnel to Egypt, then boarded a boat bound for Europe along with migrants from Egypt and Syria.
The boat that sank on Saturday had been dubbed the ‘Abu Othman’, and was off the coast of al-Ajami, near Alexandria, when it hit a rock. The migrant boats travel by dead of night in order not to be noticed, and often lack the technology to detect obstacles, like rocks, in the water.
Following the sinking of the boat, Egyptian authorities arrested 153 migrants who were attempting to board a fishing boat near Alexandria, at the port of Abu Qir, before they could get underway. According to the Star-Tribune, each migrant had paid $3500 USD for passage.
Those arrested included 43 Palestinians, 35 Sudanese and 18 Syrians, and they included men, women and children.
The Palestinians who have risked escaping from the Gaza Strip, to try to reach Europe, say they have nothing left to live for in their native land, which has been sealed off with no ability to export or import, and no economy, since 2006. Such a voyage is expensive and risky, but an estimated 100,000 Palestinians have attempted the trip in 2014 alone.