Israeli navy ships are closely following an Irish-chartered aid ship bound for Gaza. There are reports that the military has threatened to board the Rachel Corrie.
The Israeli military says those on board the vessel have ignored several messages telling them to go to the Israeli port of Ashdod. A spokeswoman said that if the ship refused to change course away from Gaza, “they won’t leave us any choice, we’ll have to board the ship”.
The ship has fifteen passengers, including the Nobel peace laueate Mairead Maguire. It is believed to be in international waters, about 50 kilometres off the Israeli coast.
Israel has said it will not allow the ship to go to Gaza, but says it will offload the cargo at Ashdod and transfer the aid to Gaza. The activists seem determined to break the blockade but have said they will not resist Israeli attempts to stop the ship.
It comes five days after an Israeli naval operation in which nine Turkish activists were killed on another ship trying to break the blockade of Gaza. That raid triggered an international outcry.
The Rachel Corrie is named after a US college student who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer as she protested over house demolitions in Gaza.