'Free Gaza' Yacht Turned Back

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - On Tuesday morning, the Israeli Navy turned back a Free Gaza Movement boat, which left Monday en route to the Gaza Strip.

Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said the boat ignored the navy's order to turn back and tried to maneuver around the ship, instead crashing into it.

Free Gaza Movement member Derek Graham accused the Israeli navy of ramming the yacht, which is now making its way slowly to Lebanon because of engine trouble.

Both vessels sustained light damage from the impact.

According to The Associated Press and Reuters news agencies, the 66-foot yacht, named SS Dignity, was carrying 3.6 tons of aid, along with 16 passengers.

Among the protestors aboard the yacht are former U.S. Congressman Cynthia McKinney and Dr. Eleni Theocharous, a legislator from Cyprus.

"This is an active protest and a direct response to the killing going on at the moment," Free Gaza Movement spokeswoman Renee Boyer told the news agencies.

Former Congresswoman McKinney wants to halt the sale of US weaponry to Israel by exposing the "trail of devastation."

"There is a need for the people of the United States to understand that every piece of rubble that is on that strip of land is caused by US weapons," McKinney told reporters.

Dr. Theocharous and two other physicians on board the yacht said they will stay in Gaza.

"We are trying to materialize a humanitarian and medical mission and to send a message to the people of Gaza that they are not alone," Dr. Theocharous said.

Israel has allowed five Free Gaza boats to dock, but on Monday, the area was declared a closed military zone.

"That doesn't stop or deter us," McKinney said, but it did.

Sources: The Associated Press, Reuters

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