Israel stops Jewish activist yacht on way to Gaza

ASHDOD, Israel - The Israeli navy boarded a yacht in the Mediterranean on Tuesday to prevent 10 Jewish activists sailing to Gaza to protest against Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Thu 30 Sep 2010, 1:22 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:40 AM

Israel’s policies for containing the militant Islamists of Hamas, who control Gaza, came under scrutiny in May after its marines killed nine Turkish activists in boarding one ship in a flotilla of vessels trying to reach the Gaza coast.

The catamaran Irene, dubbed the Jewish Boat for Peace and flying a British flag, was taken over around midday off the Gaza Strip on Tuesday without incident, a military statement said.

Reuters Television filmed the yacht sailing for the port of Ashdod under its own power, led by a small naval escort vessel.

Five of the 10 activists were Israelis and the others came from Britain, Germany and the United States. Police held the Israeli nationals for questioning and later released them. A police spokesman said the foreign activists would be deported.

One of the activists who set sail from Cyprus on Sunday was an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor, Reuven Moskovitz.

Before leaving, he told reporters he was taking part “because I am a survivor. When I was in a ghetto and almost died, I hoped there would be human beings who would show compassion and help.”

Israel maintains the naval blockade in what it says is an effort to stop arms being smuggled to Hamas, which has run Gaza since 2007 and considers itself at war with Israel.

But critics and humanitarian groups say this amounts to collective punishment of the 1.5 million Palestinians who live in the territory.

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