Israel seizes pro-Palestinian activist ship off Gaza
Jerusalem, October 20, 2012
The Israeli navy seized an international pro-Palestinian activist ship in the Mediterranean sea on Saturday to prevent it breaching its blockade of the Gaza Strip, a military spokeswoman said.
She said no one was hurt when marines boarded the SV Estelle, a three-mast schooner, and that it was rerouted to Israel's southern port of Ashdod after it ignored orders to turn away from the Hamas-governed Palestinian enclave.
The Estelle was carrying 30 activists from Europe, Canada and Israel, humanitarian cargo such as cement, and goodwill items such as children's books, a mission spokesman said earlier on Saturday.
Shipboard activists could not immediately be reached for comment.
Citing a need to stem arms smuggling to Hamas and other Palestinian militants, Israel maintains a tight naval blockade of Gaza. Israel and neighboring Egypt also limit overland traffic to and from the territory.
Palestinians describe the curbs as collective punishment for Gaza's 1.6 million residents and their supporters abroad have mounted several attempts to break the blockade by sea. Most were stopped by Israel, and in one May 2010 incident its marines killed nine Turkish activists in clashes aboard their ship.
An inquiry into that incident commissioned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon found that Israel's Gaza blockade was legal but faulted the navy for excessive force.-Reuters
More INTERNATIONAL NEWS Stories
- UK jets escort Pakistan plane, 2 arrested
- HSBC urges regulators to speed up reforms
- US sees jump in durable goods orders
- UK co-op bank halts loans to customers
- Jet Airways posts $89m quarterly loss
- Top US banks 'involved in mortgage abuse'
- UK police ponder conspiracy after soldier murder
- Truck strike may have caused US bridge collapse
- Icahn seeks up to $7bn for Dell bid
- London attacker British, of Nigerian origin