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France calls for measured response after Israel intercepts yacht

Arab-Israel Relations Materials 19 July 2011 19:26
The French government on Tuesday called on Israel to adopt a measured response after Israeli commandos boarded a French boat trying to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.
France calls for measured response after Israel intercepts yacht

The French government on Tuesday called on Israel to adopt a measured response after Israeli commandos boarded a French boat trying to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza, reported dpa.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said France had warned Israel before the navy intercepted the Dignite-Al Karama Tuesday morning that Paris expected in such an event "that they (Israeli authorities) act with responsibility and measure."

France expected Israel to respect the rights of its citizens and allow them to return home quickly, Valero told a press briefing in Paris.

The Dignite-Al Karama, the only boat out of an international flotilla of aid bound for Gaza to make it past Greece's coast guard, set sail from Gaza in the early hours of Tuesday from a position near Egypt.

The Israeli Navy began shadowing the yacht Tuesday morning, and made radio contact with it ordering it to divert course to the port of Ashdod, about 35 kilometres north of Gaza city, according to the Israeli military.

After the passengers refused to change their course, commandos boarded the yacht, and redirected it to Ashdod.

None of the 16 passengers or crew, 11 of whom are French, resisted, a military spokesman said.

In a statement the organizers of A French Boat for Gaza campaign said they had no news of the passengers since their detention and demanded their immediate release and the return of the boat.

"The use of violence against non-violent activists who were bringing a message of solidarity to the Palestinians of Gaza is totally unjustifiable," they said.

The interception of the boat in international waters was "an unjustifiable violation of the law and of international solidarity," they added.

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