The Washington Post

Israeli Navy intercepts Irish, Canadian boats headed for Gaza

Israeli Navy forces have taken over two vessels carrying pro-Palestinian activists bound for Gaza.

An Israeli flag flutters in the wind as a tug boat maneuvers just outside the port of Ashdod, where the Israeli navy on Friday boarded two boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists towards the Gaza Strip. (AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

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:

The mission to get to Gaza had been heating up for the last several days, with activists rallying around the hashtag #freedomwaves on Twitter, and opponents using the hashtag #provocatilla.

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:


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