Israel has blocked aid ships from arriving in Gaza

The Israeli navy has seized an aid boat that was headed for the Gaza strip, it has been reported.

The Freedom for Gaza vessel, which had 12 people and medical equipment onboard, was intercepted late on Friday and taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod, the Israeli military said in a statement.

The ship was part of a four-vessel Freedom Flotilla Coalition that left from Denmark in May with the aim of breaking the crushing 12-year Gaza blockade imposed by Israel and neighbouring Egypt.

Dror Feiler, a spokesman for the coalition, said: “We demand that the Israeli occupation forces not interfere with our unarmed yacht as we continue our voyage to Gaza to deliver our gift of much-needed medical supplies.”

Two million people living in Gaza lack access electricity, food, healthcare and other basic services, according to the UN, with conditions in the enclave set to become “unliveable” by 2020.

The Israeli army said in a statement the vessel was monitored and intercepted in accordance with international law. Those on board were held for “further inquiry”.

It was the second flotilla vessel held by Israeli authorities in a week, after naval forces seized a Norwegian-flagged boat carrying at least 23 people on Sunday.

The interceptions follow a number of failed attempts by activists to reach Gaza’s coastline in recent years. In May, a flotilla carrying at least 25 patients, students and activists broke Israel’s imposed boundary off the coast of the Gaza Strip for the first time in more than a decade.

The vessel, however, travelled nine nautical miles offshore before four Israeli warships flanked it and diverted it to Ashdod.

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