Israel seizes Gaza-bound flotilla, detains 12 onboard
Israeli forces have seized the second boat carrying relief aid to Gaza Strip and arrested 12 activists onboard.
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The vessel - Freedom for Gaza - was sailing under the Swedish flag and carrying 12 people.
It was taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod, the Israeli military said in a statement, adding the people on board were taken for "further inquiry."
The incident occurred after the Israeli navy seized a Norwegian-flagged boat carrying medical supplies to the coastal sliver of land last Sunday.
Indications later emerged that the Israeli forces had used violence to change the direction of the boat named al-Awda (Return).
Speaking of the incident, Torstein Dahle, an organizer of shipments of relief supplies to Gaza, said Israeli security forces had stricken the captain on the head before ordering him to sail to the coastline of the Israeli-occupied territories.
Oslo has demanded that Tel Aviv explain the legal grounds on which it seized the vessel and its passengers.
The boat was carrying 22 people, including two Israelis, who were immediately released after the boat was captured.
The boats belong to the international Freedom Flotilla coalition, which seeks to take aid to Gaza despite the Tel Aviv-imposed siege. A total of four boats from the Flotilla left from Scandinavia in mid-May. Two remain behind after a recent stop in the Italian port of Palermo.
Back in 2010, an Israeli raid against a flotilla of ships bound for Gaza left 10 Turkish activists killed. The attack occurred on a flotilla that comprised six civilian ships and sent the Ankara-Tel Aviv ties into a tailspin.
Israel has enforced a crippling blockade on some two million Palestinians in Gaza for supporting Hamas movement in parliamentary elections.
The siege has led to an economic and humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations warning that the overall conditions in the enclave could make it “uninhabitable” by 2020.