Israel navy intercepts activist boat trying to break Gaza blockade

Israel navy intercepts activist boat trying to break Gaza blockade

Israel navy intercepts activist boat trying to break Gaza blockade

Israeli forces attacked one of the Freedom Flotilla ships on Sunday as it was approaching the shores of the besieged Gaza Strip and redirected its sail toward the southern Israeli seaport of Ashdod.

In May, Israel's Navy stopped a boat carrying 17 Palestinians from Gaza that attempted to breach the maritime blockade of the coastal strip.

The attempt was the latest in a decade-long series of attempts by pro-Palestinian activists to break the naval blockade.

Following Al Awda was a Swedish- flagged yacht called Freedom Italy, with 36 activists from 15 different countries, said Zaher Birawi, head of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza based in London.

The Freedom Flotilla is a new flotilla made up of four ships, which intend on breaking Israel's almost 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The motor vessel, named "Al Awda", or "The Return" in Arabic, was contacted by the Israeli military in global waters some 49 nautical miles from the port of Gaza city, the flotilla's organizers said on their website.

In fact, the only "necessary measures" would be to end the blockade of Gaza and restore freedom of movement for all Palestinians.

Activist on board on the boat were reportedly assaulted by masked Israeli soldiers.

More news: Demi Lovato gets advice from recovering addicts Keith Urban, Kelsey Grammer

The Awda, carrying at least 23 people, was meant to reach the Gaza port approximately at noon local time on Sunday, but was redirected instead to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

"Freedom Flotilla" organizers said participants on board of the "Freedom Flotilla" received a call from Israeli naval forces prior to the interception inquiring about the number of participants and supplies it carried on board before their boat was surrounded and seized.

Numerous activist ships have been prevented from reaching Gaza in recent years.

By far, the biggest flotilla to sail for Gaza was in 2010, when six ships sailed for Gaza headed by the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-registered vessel.

The blockade has faced criticism from various United Nations and humanitarian groups, which organizations like the Red Cross calling the blockade a type of "collective punishment" imposed on the Gazan people.

In 2010, Israel raided six civilian ships of the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla" in global waters in the Mediterranean sea, killing nine activists.

Israel's military raid against the civilian flotilla was met with global condemnation.

The blockade of the Gaza strip began in September 2007, after rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli territory.

Related news