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Israeli navy intercepts ship carrying activists

July 01, 2009|TIMES WIRE REPORTS

The Israeli navy intercepted a ship carrying foreign peace activists trying to break a blockade of Gaza and forced it to sail to an Israeli port, the military said.

A statement said the Greek-registered freighter Arion ignored a radio message from the Israeli military saying it would not be allowed to enter Gaza waters and ordering it to turn back. The statement said naval personnel boarded the small vessel.

The military said those on board would be handed over to immigration authorities on arrival in the southern port of Ashdod, and humanitarian cargo would be trucked into the Gaza Strip after a security check. The ship arrived at Ashdod port after nightfall.

An earlier statement by the voyage's organizers, the Free Gaza Movement, said the vessel, renamed the Spirit of Humanity, left the Cypriot port of Larnaca on Monday bound for Gaza with 3 tons of medical supplies. The 20 passengers included former U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire and other activists.

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