Israeli Navy Stops Last Gaza Flotilla Yacht

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Navy personnel boarded the French yacht Dignite al-Karame on Tuesday after pro-Palestinian activists refused to alter course from the Gaza Strip.

"Upon expressing their unwillingness to arrive at the Ashdod port, it was unequivocally necessary to board the vessel and lead it to Ashdod," the IDF Spokesperson's Office said in a statement.

Naval personnel encountered no resistance from the activists. The passengers' health was examined and they were offered food and beverages, the Spokesperson's Office said.

When the yacht arrives at the Ashdod port, Israel Police will question the passengers before transporting them to the Ministry of Interior and immigration authorities.

On Sunday, the Greek port authority granted permission to the yacht to set sail when the captain listed the Egyptian port of Alexandria as its destination.

But the crew changed course when they reached international waters, a "legal" maneuver according to Free Gaza Movement spokeswoman Greta Berlin.

"The Free Gaza Movement and the coalition of Freedom Flotilla 2 are not giving up until the inhumane and illegitimate blockade of Gaza is lifted," the group announced in a press release.

The vessel, the only remaining ship in the 10-vessel Freedom Flotilla 2, had no humanitarian aid on board.

By 6 a.m. Tuesday, four Israeli naval vessels were trailing the yacht. By late morning, the Navy notified the passengers they were headed "to an area under a maritime security blockade off the coast of Gaza."

They reminded them "that any supplies they may have on board may be transferred, legally, through the existing land crossings and the Ashdod Port."

During his visit to Israel last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres thanked Greek President Karolos Papoulias for his help in stopping the flotilla.

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