Israel Navy overtakes Gaza-bound ship

10:38, July 20, 2011      

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The Israeli army said Tuesday that its navy troops have overtaken a French yacht, Dignite-Al Karama, which was sailing toward Gaza with the aim of breaching Israel's maritime blockade on the Palestinian enclave.

The navy troops boarded the French vessel at noon time with no violent resistance encountered, an Israel Defense Forces spokeperson told Xinhua.

A spokesperson of the Free Gaza movement, a main organizer of the Gaza-bound vessels, said that their communication with Dignite- Al Karama has been cut off.

"We haven't heard from the passengers on the boat since the Israeli military illegally boarded our ship, but we suppose they will be taken by force to Ahsdod's port," said Free Gaza Movement co-founder and spokeswoman Greta Berlin, speaking with Xinhua from Athens.

The ship had been surrounded by Israeli warships Tuesday morning, when it was some 50 miles away from the Gaza coast. "Three Israeli navy boats on left, another on the right, 500 meters away and closing," the Free Gaza Movement said earlier in the day.

The Israeli army said that they contacted the activists on the Gaza-bound boat for several times before boarding it, telling them "any supplies they may have on-board may be transferred, legally, through the existing land crossings and the Ashdod Port."

Despite the recent Gaza-bound flotilla's failure to set sail en masse from several Mediterranean ports, the Dignite-Al Karama managed to set sail from the Greek island Kastellorizo Saturday evening, and headed to Gaza, in a symbolic act of protest against what the activists called "Israel's illegal blockade" on the Gaza Strip.

Aboard the vessel are French, Canadian, Tunisian nationals. All of the other flotilla boats are still detained, two weeks after they had scheduled to sail.

Source: Xinhua
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