Palestinians condemn takeover of Gaza-bound French ship

13:17, July 20, 2011      

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The Palestinian National Authority and Islamic Hamas movement condemned the takeover of a Gaza-bound French ship by the Israeli navy Tuesday.

"We criticize the Israel banning of the ship, Dignite Al-Karama, from reaching the Gaza Strip to break the Israeli blockade," said Ghassan Khatib, spokesman for the Palestinian government in the West Bank.

The PNA has already slammed Israel's diplomatic campaign to prevent the second pro-Palestinian flotilla from sailing to Gaza, Khatib said, reiterating that the Israeli blockade is an illegal action.

In Gaza, a Hamas official, Ismail Radwan, said that the interception of the French ship is "a war crime and piracy operation."

The Israeli Navy has seized the ship while it was heading for the Gaza Strip Tuesday.

The ship was supposed to sail as part of the second Gaza-bound flotilla aiming to break Israel's siege on Gaza. The 10-ship flotilla carries international activists from the Europe and America and aid.

Israel Radio quoted an army spokesperson as saying that the process of seizing the boat was successful without clashes with the 16 people aboard.

The spokesperson added that the crew rejected the Israeli navy order to change the ship's direction in order not to break the naval blockade around the Gaza Strip and go to one of the Israeli seaports.

In May 2010, the Israeli navy attacked a Turkish-led humanitarian flotilla in the Mediterranean, killing nine pro- Palestinian activists. The incident sparked international criticism of the blockade. As a result, Israel eased the siege on Gaza but kept restrictions on some basic elements like construction materials.

Source: Xinhua
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