Israel Navy forces boarded the ships of a flotilla headed for the Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon, thereby putting an end to the latest attempt of international activists to sail to the coastal territory.
Two ships, the Canadian “Tahrir” and the Irish “Saoirse” set sail from Turkey on Wednesday, carrying humanitarian aid in an attempt to break Israeli’s blockade on Gaza. The flotilla – dubbed “Freedom Waves” – was carrying 27 international activists and reporters from Al Jazeera and Democracy Now!, which aired a video report from the Tahrir, as the IDF prepared to board:
Before the forces came on board the ships, activists abroad lost communication with the boats in what they described as IDF sabotage. By Friday evening, according to the IDF spokesperson, troops aboard the ships were steering them to the Israel’s Ashdod port. Haaretz reported that the IDF also claimed that it had boarded after first making contact with the ships and informing them that “Gaza is under a maritime security blockade.”
There were no reports of violence following the army’s interception. Earlier, AFP quoted a flotilla spokesperson who said that all ship passengers had pledged not to resist the army, should it launch efforts to stop the flotilla.