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Israeli navy takes over Gaza-bound French ship

JERUSALEM — Israeli naval commandos on Tuesday seized control of a French ship attempting to break Israel's sea blockade of the Gaza Strip and towed it into port, reporting no resistance during the takeover in international waters.

The incident was the latest in a series of run-ins on the high seas between the Israeli navy and pro-Palestinian activists trying to breach the blockade. In the most contentious incident, nine Turkish activists were killed in a clash with Israeli commandos last year.

Tuesday's standoff was far more subdued. The navy intercepted the Dignity al-Karama some 40 miles off the coast and boarded the ship without incident after the crew ignored calls to change course.

"Nobody was hurt and the ship wasn't damaged," the navy's deputy commander, Brig. Gen. Rani Ben-Yehudah, told reporters at the southern Israeli port of Ashdod.

Passengers included activists from France, Sweden, Canada and Greece. There were also three journalists, including an Israeli, and several crew members.

Israeli navy takes over Gaza-bound French ship 07/19/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 10:30pm]
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