Israeli navy reportedly intercepts Gaza-bound Rachel Corrie aid ship (UPDATE)
The Rachel Corrie international aid ship sailing to the Gaza Strip was intercepted early Saturday by Israeli navy, the Free Gaza Movement said on its website, Xinhua reported.
A statement from the activists aboard the aid ship released a statement, saying that they invite for an independent inspection into the cargo on the ship by a third party such as the UN.
"In light of concerns by certain quarters i.e. the Israeli authorities, the activists have therefore unanimously agreed to allow for the inspection of the cargo on board," another non- government organization Perdana Global Peace quoted the statement as saying.
"They request and invite for an independent international body, preferably inspectors from the United Nations to board the ship and do the necessary to certify as to the nature of the cargo on board," it added.
The statement, which said it was made when Rachel Corrie was 150 miles away from the 25 mile line of Gaza, noted that there is no "weapons and any apparatus that may be used for harmful purposes" on board.
The ship, named after a pro-Palestinian activist killed in Gaza in 2003, was followed by three Israeli war ships about 16 miles from the besieged Palestinian territory and the Israeli navy did not take any further actions, an activist onboard the ship told Al-Jazeera TV earlier in the day.
The ship's radar was jammed and their communication with Al-Jazeera was suspended later.
The Free Gaza Movement said in its latest Twitter message, at 7:10 local time, that the organization could not reach the passengers on the ship via phone.
Earlier reports from the Free Gaza Movement said the aid vessel has been boarded and controlled by Israeli soldiers. But it is not confirmed by the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson's office at this moment.
Onboard the ship are a group of Irish and Malaysian peace activists, including Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire. It is loaded with construction materials, paper and other supplies.
Israel will not allow any ship to reach Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday at a cabinet meeting to discuss how to deal with the aid ship.