Israeli navy faces off with Gaza aid ship

12:21, June 06, 2010      

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An Israeli navy patrol boat maneuvers at the port of Ashdod June 5, 2010. Israeli forces seized an Irish-owned ship bound for Gaza on Saturday, boarding the Rachel Corrie close to the Gaza shore near the Mediterranean, an Israeli military spokeswoman said. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)The Rachel Corrie international aid ship sailing to the Gaza Strip has been tailed since early Saturday morning by Israeli navy, the Free Gaza Movement said.

The non-government organization, a major coordinator and organizer of the aid ship, said in its twitter message that the Rachel Corrie has been forcibly seized by the Israeli navy and is being towed to Ashdod with all on board are reported safe.

But the report was rejected by Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

IDF spokesperson's office said in a statement that Israeli navy had not boarded the aid ship yet, adding that the navy's warships have made initial request for the aid vessel's identity and begun telling the activists aboard to dock at southern Israel's Ashdod port.

A spokeswoman told Xinhua that the aid vessel will not be allowed to reach Gaza.

The army said the ship had rejected navy's request to dock at Ashdod for four times, adding that the boat was 28 miles from Gaza shore at around 10:50 local time.

An IDF spokesman told local daily Ha'aretz that the army is preparing for the possibility of a takeover of the ship, which was similar to its raid earlier this week on a Gaza aid flotilla. The raid took place five days ago and ended with at least nine activists from the flotilla killed and nearly 30 others injured.

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