Israel navy halts Gaza-bound boat without violence

Jerusalem–The Israeli military says it has taken control of a boat carrying nine Jewish activists to the Gaza Strip without resistance.

Israel had promised to halt the Irene, which was trying to breach the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.

Tuesday's incident comes four months after Israel carried out a deadly raid on an international flotilla that also tried to break the blockade. Nine Turkish activists were killed in clashes.

In contrast, naval forces boarded the Irene without resistance, and began to tow it into an Israeli port.

The international condemnation triggered by the death of the Turkish activists forced Israel to relax its land blockade of Gaza but the naval blockade remains in force.

Activists behind the convoy involved in May's deadly raid have said they will send a new flotilla of at least eight ships to try to break the blockade by the end of this year. The Freedom Flotilla Coalition, an umbrella group of pro-Palestinian activist behind the efforts, said no date has been set.

Israel, with Egypt's cooperation, imposed the blockade after Hamas militants seized control of Gaza in June 2007.

The measure was intended to keep out weapons, turn Gazans against their militant Hamas rulers and pressure the group to free a captive Israeli soldier. Those aims were not achieved but the embargo deepened the misery of Gaza's 1.5 million people.

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