Israeli troops board Irish aid ship 'peacefully'

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Israeli troops board Irish aid ship 'peacefully'

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Israel’s navy has peacefully escorted an Irish aid ship bound for Gaza to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

A military spokesman said Israeli commandos boarded the Rachel Corrie “with the full compliance” of its crew and met with no resistance.

Those on board had hoped to deliver their cargo of aid directly to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and break a three-year blockade that Israel says is meant to prevent weapons entering the enclave.

The crew refused several Israeli requests for them to redirect to Ashdod.

Commandos then intercepted the ship around 40 kilometres off the Gaza coast. Israel says the cargo will be checked at Ashdod for banned items and then transported over land to Gaza.

The Rachel Corrie is named after an American student crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza seven years ago. She had been protesting against the demolition of Palestinian homes.

Aboard the ship were 20 passengers including Nobel peace prize laureate Mairead Maguire, as well as hundreds of tonnes of aid including wheelchairs, medicine and cement.

Earlier this week a similar shipment was stormed by Israeli commandos with much more violent consequences. Nine Turkish crew were killed in an operation that sparked international condemnation.