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Israel intercepts aid ship bound for Gaza


Source: | 02-06-2009 08:57

Special Report:   Israel airstrikes in Gaza

Israeli navy has intercepted a ship, attempting to deliver aid from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip and escorted it to the port of Ashdod in southern Israel.

Israeli warships escort the Lebanese aid ship to Ashdod. The Israeli navy intercepted and boarded a Gaza-bound aid boat before escorting it to the Israeli port of Ashdod. (AFP/David Buimovitch)
Israeli warships escort the Lebanese aid ship to Ashdod.
The Israeli navy intercepted and boarded a Gaza-bound aid
boat before escorting it to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
(AFP/David Buimovitch)

The Togo-flagged "Tali Lome" is the latest in a string of vessels that tried to break an Israeli blockade. The interception has drawn strong condemnation from both Hamas and Lebanon.

The voyage organizers were a group of Lebanese political and human rights activists.

They said 18 people were on board the ship which was carrying medicine, food, toys and basic humanitarian supplies.

Reporters from Arab TV stations Al-Jadeed and Al-Jazeera who were on the vessel said the Israelis fired at the ship before boarding it and beating those on board. Gunfire could be heard in the background of the telephoned reports aired by their stations.

The Israeli navy said the ship had not been cleared by Israeli authorities.

It said that it had initially allowed the ship to sail to Egypt but it made a sudden U-turn towards Gaza's shore.

Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Minister, said, "In the territorial waters of Egypt, the boat tried to turn and crawl into Gaza, the navy got on board the ship, stopped it and led it to Ashdod."