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Israel navy intercepts activist boat trying to break Gaza blockade

30 July 2018

An worldwide flotilla, meant to draw the world's attention to the suffering of Palestinians under an inhumane Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, is nearing the coastal enclave's waters. Israel said that this time, the ship was intercepted without incident.

In 2010, Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists when they raided a six-ship flotilla trying to reach the Gaza Strip in defiance of the blockade.

A list of people on board names activists from 16 countries, mainly from Europe but also Malaysia, the United States and Israel, on the ship carrying €13,000 worth of medical supplied for Gaza.

"The activity ended without exceptional events", a military statement said on Sunday. Two boats remained behind after a recent stop in the Italian town of Palermo.

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"In the last report received from the vessel, the commanding officer said four Israeli naval vessels were seen approaching".

United Nations officials and rights activists have called for the blockade to be lifted, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian enclave of two million people run by Islamist movement Hamas.

"The Freedom Flotilla Coalition calls on the Norwegian Government, the national governments of those aboard Al Awda and the Freedom [Flotilla], other national governments, and relevant global organizations to act immediately", said Torstein Dahle of Ship to Gaza Norway, part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition.

The two sides normalized relations in June 2016, but their ties sank to a fresh low in May 2018 after the expelling of envoys amid growing tensions over the killing of dozens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip at the hands of Israeli forces.

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Friday's demonstration left around 80 participants injured, mostly in the upper part of their body, Gaza-based Hind Khoudari reported standing in the crowds of protesters.

This is not the first time that a flotilla has traveled to Gaza in an effort to draw attention to the campaign to end the blockade.

On July 20, a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier.

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Israel navy intercepts activist boat trying to break Gaza blockade