Gaza flotilla ship intercepted, redirected to Israel

By Jennifer Lipman, July 19, 2011

The Israeli navy has intercepted a French ship after repeated calls were refused by the pro-Palestinian activists on board to divert the ship away from the Gaza Strip.

Israel had already stated that any attempt by a flotilla vessel to breach the blockaded area would be viewed as a provocation.

The navy made contact with the activists on the Al-Karama ship but they refused to change course, so soldiers boarded it, taking precautions for the safety of those on board.

The Al-Karama will now be led to the Israeli port of Ashdod where the activists will be questioned by police. After boarding the ship the soldiers offered the activists food and drink and medical checks.

The ship is understood to be a lone vessel; other boats in the flotilla were prevented from sailing by the Greek authorities.

A message posted on Twitter by activists in contact with those on the Al-Karama said: "The final boat of the f lotilla to Gaza has been boarded and redirected to the Israel Ashdod port. Passengers were allegedly not harmed."

Last updated: 11:33am, July 19 2011