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June 29, 2015 2:16 am

Israel Intercepts Gaza-Bound Flotilla, Redirects to Ashdod

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A Sa'ar-class corvette in the Israeli Navy. Photo: Ilan Rom via Wikimedia Commons.

A Sa’ar-class corvette in the Israeli Navy. Photo: Ilan Rom via Wikimedia Commons. -Israel on Monday intercepted a ship of pro-Palestinian activists that had set sail for Gaza on Friday in the latest attempt to breach the naval blockade of the coastal territory.

“In accordance with international law, the Israeli Navy advised the vessel several times to change course,” the Israel Defense Forces said. “Following their refusal, forces visited and searched the vessel in international waters in order to prevent the intended breach of the maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip. The forces have reported that use of force was unnecessary, and that the process was uneventful.”

Among those aboard the Marianne of Gothenburg vessel, which originated in Sweden, was an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset, Basel Ghattas (Joint Arab List).

“I would like to express my appreciation to the sailors of the Israel Navy for their perfect and precise operation in stopping the ship off the coast of Gaza,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “This entire flotilla is hypocritical. There is no need for these small boats to deliver consumer goods or humanitarian assistance to Gaza. Since Operation Protective Edge, Israel has delivered 1.6 million tons of materials to Gaza, more than any other country, in a clear manner, as our unequivocal policy. This means almost a ton of equipment for every resident, 800 trucks a day.”

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The flotilla effort had said it was attempting “to highlight the violation of the rights of 1.8 million Palestinians living in the world’s largest open-air prison.” Israel and Egypt maintain a naval blockade of Gaza in order to prevent the smuggling of weapons and other materials that can ultimately be used for terrorism against their countries.

The flotilla interception marks a much smoother operation for Israel than the events of May 2010, when a Turkish flotilla was intercepted by the IDF as it attempted to break the Gaza blockade. The confrontation turned violent after militants began attacking Israeli naval commandos, leading to the deaths of nine Turks and the deterioration of Israel’s relations with Turkey.

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