Gaza-bound flotilla vessel seized by Israeli navy

REF: Israel has boarded and taken over a vessel attempting to break the blockade of the Palestinian territory.In a statement the Israeli army said on Monday that it did not use force in redirecting the main boat “Marianne” to the Israeli city of Ashdod.

Avichay Adraee, the Israeli army spokesman, said that the takeover of the flotilla happened after the vessel refused to listen to the warning of its navy. He said it happened quickly and “without anyone getting harm”.

Petros Stergiou, a spokesperson for the flotilla, told Al Jazeera that organisers lost contact with the Marianne at around 2am local time on Monday morning, as three military boats approached.

“What we learned is that the Israeli navy attacked the Marianne around 100 nautical miles from the shore of Gaza,” Stergiou said.

“They said they could see three military boats approaching them that had identified themselves as being military.

“Once again, the Israeli government and its military has acted like state pirates and attacked our boat in international waters.”

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commended the Israel Navy for detaining the passengers on the ship.

The vessel is part of the Freedom Flotilla III – a convoy of four ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists including Arab Israeli lawmaker Basel Ghattas, Tunisia’s former president Moncef Marzouki and at least one European lawmaker.

In a similar bid to break the blockade in 2010, a pre-dawn raid by Israeli commandos on the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara killed 10 Turkish activists.

Several attempts since have been thwarted, but without bloodshed.

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