JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Israeli navy intercepted and boarded a cargo ship carrying humanitarian supplies and activists from Lebanon to Gaza.
Eighteen naval gunboats surrounded the ship, which was towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
Thursday morning’s incident was the second time the navy tried to turn back the ship. The first time, the ship indicated that it would sail to Egypt and instead tried again to make it to Gaza.
The ship, sailing under the flag of Togo, sailed from Tripoli a few days ago and stopped overnight in Cyprus before leaving for Gaza on Wednesday morning. It was said to be carrying 50 tons of medical supplies, food, clothing and toys, as well as activists and journalists.
Israel’s navy made direct contact with the vessel on Wednesday evening, telling the crew that the ship would not be permitted to enter Gaza’s coastal waters.
Though some media outlets are reporting that the ship was fired on, a statement from the Israel Defense Forces said that "No gunshots were fired on board during the boarding and capturing of the cargo boat."
The IDF release emphasized that "any organization or country that wishes to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip can do so via the established crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip with prior coordination."