Israeli Navy confronts French yacht on way to Gaza Strip
The Israeli Navy made contact Tuesday morning with a French yacht on its way to the Gaza Strip, telling it that it was sailing toward a blockaded area, an Israeli military spokeswoman said, DPA reported.
She said the Navy told the Yacht, the Dignitie, that it could transfer the goods it was carrying to the enclave via the Israeli port of Ashdod. She did not say whether the yacht had already entered Israeli territorial waters.
Activists on board the Dignite had earlier reported they were being shadowed by four Israeli naval vessels.
The yacht left the Greek island of Kastellorizo on Saturday night. The activists said they hoped to reach Gaza by Tuesday afternoon.
The vessel, with 10 activists, three journalists and three crew members on board, was part of a flotilla the Free Gaza movement and other pro-Palestinian groups had planned to send to the Gaza Strip from ports in Greece.
However, intense Israeli diplomacy saw Athens block the ships from sailing to the blockaded territory from its ports.
Israel imposed its blockade on Gaza in 2006, after militants launched a cross-border raid and snatched an Israeli soldier. The siege was tightened considerably in 2007, when the Islamist Hamas movement seized control of the salient.
But Israel last year relaxed many of the strictures it had imposed on the enclave, after Israeli commandos boarded a vessel in a Gaza-bound aid flotilla and killed nine activists.