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Intercepted Aid Ship Arrives in Israeli Port


A cargo ship that was intercepted by Israeli forces as it was en route to the Gaza Strip has now entered the Israeli port of Ashdod.

The Rachel Corrie aid ship will be inspected by Israeli authorities. Israeli forces boarded the ship earlier Saturday after its crew ignored repeated warnings to divert their course.

The 19 pro-Palestinian activists and crew members on board the ship were trying to break Israel's three-year blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza and deliver 20 tons of aid to the region.

This the second attempt in a week by the "Free Gaza Movement" to deliver aid to Gaza. On Monday, eight Turks and an American of Turkish origin were killed after Israeli commandos boarded their ship.

The Israeli military said activists on the Rachel Corrie did not resist when troops boarded the ship.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the difference between Saturday's interception and Monday's deadly raid was that the Rachel Corrie was a "ship of peace activists" while Monday's ship carried activists filled with "hate," who were on a mission organized by "extremists."

Mr. Netanyahu also said Israel does not agree with Saturday's pro-Palestinian activists, but respects their "right to a different opinion."

Turkey condemned Israel for Monday's deadly raid and has threatened to cut ties. Turkish media report that Ankara also is pursuing a possible criminal case against Israel in international court.

On Saturday, thousands of people gathered in Istanbul to demonstrate against Israel for Monday's deadly raid. Another large protest took place in London, where pro-Palestinian activists chanted and waved signs as they marched to the Israeli embassy.

Protests took place Saturday in other cities, including Paris.

United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said Saturday that Israel's blockade may be illegal. Pillay said that under international humanitarian law, "starvation of civilians as a method of warfare" is prohibited. She also said the law prohibits imposing "collective punishment" on civilians.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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