Gaza-bound flotilla vessel seized by Israeli navy

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JERUSALEM: Israel has boarded and taken over a vessel attempting to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip, officials said.

In a statement the Israeli army said on Monday that it did not use force in redirecting the main boat Marianne to the Israeli city of Ashdod. 

Petros Stergiou, a spokesperson for the flotilla, told Al Jazeera that organisers lost contact with the Marianne at around 2am local time on Monday morning, as three military boats approached.

“What we learned is that the Israeli navy attacked the Marianne around 100 nautical miles from the shore of Gaza,” Stergiou said.

“They said they could see three military boats approaching them that had identified themselves as being military.

“Once again, the Israeli government and its military has acted like state pirates and attacked our boat in international waters.”

Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner said the seizure of the ship was “uneventful” and it would now be escorted to Ashdod in southern Israel.

The vessel is part of the Freedom Flotilla III – a convoy of four ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists including Arab Israeli lawmaker Basel Ghattas, Tunisia’s former president Moncef Marzouki and at least one European lawmaker.

In a similar bid to break the blockade in 2010, a pre-dawn raid by Israeli commandos on the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara killed 10 Turkish activists. 

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