Israeli Navy forces have taken over two vessels carrying pro-Palestinian activists bound for Gaza.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that the boats had been warned over the radio when they were 50 miles from Gaza to change course. The ships continued on, however, and the BBC reports the boats have now been intercepted and taken to the Ashdod port, where people on board will be brought to police and immigration forces. Canadian activists who helped organize the ships confirmed the reports on Twitter, writing: “Two Israeli warships have surrounded our boats and we have lost all contact.”
The two Gaza-bound boats, the Canadian “Tahrir” and Irish “Saoirse,” were the latest attempt to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. A larger flotilla tried and failed to sail to Gaza in July. Last year, Israeli commandoes boarded a Gaza-bound ship and killed nine people after encountering resistance from the activists on board.
Before the ships were intercepted Thursday, Al Jazeera posted the below footage of the two ships meeting at sea and the cargo onboard:
After the boats were intercepted, Canadian boat Tahrir’s official Twitter account wrote: ”Israel had no right to intercept #FreedomWaves to Gaza. This is blatant piracy and hijacking in front of the whole world.”
Col. Avital Leibovich, a spokeswoman for the Israeli military, defended the move: “The Israeli Navy completed necessary preparations to prevent the two yachts breaking the maritime security blockade #freedomwaves #provocatilla.”
Below, watch raw footage of the boats being intercepted, provided by the Israeli Defense Forces: