By Nour Abu Aisha and Yaser Albanna
GAZA CITY, Palestine
Israeli naval forces on Tuesday intercepted a Palestinian humanitarian flotilla that attempted to break the years-long blockade of Gaza.
According to Israeli military spokesman Avichay Adraee, the boat -- which had been carrying eight passengers -- was “stopped without incident”.
After being searched, the vessel and passengers will be taken to Israel’s Port of Ashdod, Adraee said.
The spokesman went on to defend what he described as Israel’s “naval cordon” on Gaza, calling it “necessary and legal… for maintaining Israel’s security and its maritime borders”.
The flotilla set out from the Gaza coast earlier Tuesday in hopes of breaking Israel’s 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.
It was the second humanitarian flotilla to set out from Gaza since Palestinians first began holding rallies along the Gaza-Israel security fence on Mar. 30.
An earlier flotilla, which set out from Gaza on May 29 carrying Palestinian medical patients and university students, was likewise intercepted.
Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli blockade that has gutted its economy and deprived its roughly 2 million inhabitants of many basic commodities.
Since Mar. 30, more than 130 Palestinians have been martyred by Israeli army gunfire -- and thousands more injured -- while taking part in regular demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel security fence.
Demonstrators demand an end to Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian land and its ongoing blockade, which has brought the impoverished Gaza Strip to the verge of humanitarian catastrophe.