Israel intercepts Gaza-bound women’s flotilla

JERUSALEM, Oct. 6 (UPI) — Israeli Defense Forces intercepted the all-female, Gaza-bound “Zaytouna” flotilla that sought to break through Israel’s blockade on the Palestinian territory.

Israeli troops on Wednesday boarded the flotilla — dubbed the “Women’s Boat to Gaza” — in which at least 13 female activists hoped to breach the Israeli blockade to Gaza, which Israeli authorities put in place in 2007 citing security reasons.

“In accordance with government directives and after exhausting all diplomatic channels, the Israeli navy redirected the vessel in order to prevent breach of the lawful maritime blockade,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.

No violence was recorded from either side. The women who participated in the flotilla are from Norway, Sweden, Australia, Egypt, Tunisia, Malaysia, Israel, Canada and the United States.

“We all hope that we will break the blockade and celebrate on the shores of Gaza, but in reality, we know that our ships will probably be intercepted by Israeli forces and we will be illegally detained,” Wendy Goldsmith, a Canadian member, told Al Jazeera. “We have set our course to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade and to bring messages of hope to Gaza.”

Israeli officials on Tuesday said there is no siege on Gaza, adding that anyone can send goods to the Gaza Strip but that such goods must pass a regulated security check.

In 2010, at least nine activists were killed in a confrontation with Israeli authorities when six civilian flotillas attempted to breach the blockade. Accounts over what led to the activists’ deaths have been contested by pro-Palestinian organization and Israeli authorities.

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