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The Israel Navy intercepted the flotilla boat Al Awda on Sunday after it disobeyed commands to stop sailing toward the Gaza Strip.

“The Freedom Flotilla Coalition calls on the Norwegian Government, the national governments of those aboard Al Awda and the Freedom [Flotilla], other national governments, and relevant international organizations to act immediately,” said Torstein Dahle of Ship to Gaza Norway, part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition.

“The international community must assume its responsibilities and demand that Israeli authorities ensure the safety of those on board, the speedy delivery of our gifts to the Palestinian people in Gaza, an end to the illegal blockade of Gaza,  and to stop impeding our legal right of innocent passage to Gaza to deliver our gift of much-needed medical supplies.”

The boat, carrying aid and €13,000 worth of medical supplies, was expected to reach Gaza Sunday evening but, according to activists, the Israel Navy intercepted Al Awda (“The Return”) less than 60 nautical miles from the blockaded coastal enclave.

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The former fishing boat was sailing under a Norwegian flag and took off from Italy with 22 activists on board, including Israeli activist Yonatan Shapira who is on his fourth attempt to break the blockade from the sea.

Other activists came from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, UK and the United States.

Shapira was quoted by the Ynet news site as saying, “Our goal is to lift the blockade over Gaza. When a civilian group is fighting against a bigger body like a state, it has to develop creative ideas to succeed, and I’d be happy to hear such ideas from people.”

Another Israeli activist on board the ship was quoted by Ynet as saying the weekly “March of Return” demonstrations along the Gaza border gave the activists “motivation” to join the flotilla.

“There are people in the flotilla’s coalition with ties to the campaign in Gaza, but this flotilla was planned before that and with no connections to the campaign,” Zohar Regev told the news site.
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