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Report: Palestinian territories

Israel intercepts Gaza-bound boat

Reuters/Ciro De Luca

Masked Israeli forces boarded a blockade-busting ship headed for Gaza around 10am Saturday morning. The Estelle had sailed from Sweden carrying goods intended to break Israel's blockade of the coastal Palestinian territory.

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With both sides appear to have wanted to avoid a repeat of the 2010 boarding of the Mavi Marmara in which nine people were killed, causing an international outcry.

On board the Estelle were 30 activists from eight different countries, including members of parliament from Norway, Sweden, Greece, Spain and a former Canadian MP.

The ship was carrying a cargo of aid intended to break Israeli’s blockade of the Strip, including toys, musical instruments, wheelchairs, crutches, 300 footballs and cement.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

The activists state that the ship was boarded in international waters, not Israeli territory as alleged by Israeli sources.

The Estelle was then led to the port of Ashdod, where the activists were taken into custody by the Israeli police and immigration authorities.

After setting sail from Sweden the ship stopped off at ports throughout Europe, leaving Naples on the 7 October for Gaza.

In a statement, the activists said that they have succeeded in their purpose of drawing the world’s attention to the humanitarian consequences of the blockade.

Israel began preventing the flow of many goods into the Gaza Strip following Hamas seizing power in 2007 but eased the blockade slightly in 2010.

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