#Estelle Ship to Gaza | Gaza peace flotilla Estelle ‘under attack’

Flotilla has 20 people from eight countries, carrying items like medicines, cement, basketballs and musical instruments

(FILES) In this photo taken on October 16, 2012 the Finnish ship SV Estelle is seen during an operation off the southern Greek island of Gavdos, south of Crete. The Israeli navy on October 20, 2012 boarded a boat carrying pro-Palestinian activists and parliamentarians seeking to breach Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza, a statement from the military said. “A short while ago, Israeli navy soldiers boarded Estelle, a vessel which was en route to the Gaza Strip, attempting to break the maritime security blockade,” it said, indicating the Finnish-flagged vessel was being led to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod. (AFP)

Now:

The Israeli navy on Saturday boarded a boat carrying pro-Palestinian activists and parliamentarians seeking to breach Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza, the military said.

“A short while ago, Israeli navy soldiers boarded Estelle, a vessel which was en route to the Gaza Strip, attempting to break the maritime security blockade,” it said in a statement, indicating the Finnish-flagged vessel was being led to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod.

Earlier:

A ship carrying pro-Palestinian activists seeking to breach Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza has “come under attack” shortly after being approached by Israeli vessels, a spokeswoman told AFP on Saturday.

“The Estelle is now under attack — I have just had a message from them by phone,” Victoria Strand, a Stockholm-based spokeswoman for the Ship to Gaza Sweden campaign told AFP.

“Some time ago, they said that they had military ships following them, but we don’t know exactly what they mean” when they say they were attacked, she said of the vessel which is carrying five parliamentarians and a former Canadian lawmaker.

The Israeli military confirmed that navy vessels were in the vicinity of the MV Estelle but denied the ship had been attacked or boarded.

“The Israeli navy has attempted to make initial contact with them, but they have not answered and nothing further has happened at this stage,” a spokeswoman said.

Asked whether any attempt had been made to stop or board the Estelle, she said: “Not at the moment.”

Israeli army reports naval vessels has made contact

Israeli army radio is reporting that naval vessels have made contact with a pro-Palestinian boat sailing to Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade.

The radio reported Saturday that Israeli forces ordered the Swedish owned, Finnish-flagged Estelle to halt its course.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed naval ships were in the area. She spoke anonymously citing military regulations.

Activists said they lost communication with their colleagues on the boat early this morning, indicating it was likely surrounded.

The Estelle is the latest in a series of activist-manned boats challenging Israel’s blockade on Gaza, imposed after the militant group Hamas seized power of the coastal sliver in 2007.

It left Naples, Italy, on Oct. 7 with about 20 people from eight countries, carrying items like cement, basketballs and musical instruments.






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