Israel on Tuesday prevented an aid ship carrying Jewish anti-blockade activists bound for the Gaza Strip from reaching its destination, the Israeli military said.
There was no violence or incidents as naval forces boarded the ship, the ‘Irene’, as it approached the Gaza coast. The vessel was being towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod, about 38 kilometres north of Gaza city.
The military statement said the ‘Irene’ was boarded after its captain ignored two warnings that it was breaking Israeli and international law.
The ‘Irene’, sailing under a British flag, left Cyprus on Sunday and was en route to the Gaza Strip, which has been subject to an Israeli blockade since 2007.
On board are 10 left-wing Jewish activists, including a Holocaust survivor and a man whose daughter was killed in a Hamas suicide bombing in 1997. Organisers say they are bringing “symbolic aid” to Palestinians in Gaza — textbooks, prosthetic limbs, toys, musical instruments and fishing nets.
Israel placed the Gaza Strip under blockade in 2007, following the seizure of power by Hamas over the territory. However, the blockade was eased in June this year, several weeks after an Israeli attempt to stop an international aid flotilla sailing for the Strip turned violent, leaving nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.