Israel has intercepted a small boat, Marianne av Goteborg, carrying 18 activists, including the former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, on its way to Gaza to protest Israeli blockade of the region. So far there has been no news of any conflict or casualties.
The vessel is part of a four-boat Freedom Flotilla III.
The last contact with the Marianne av Goteborg was at 12:57 a.m., when it was about 105 nautical miles from the destination Gaza city. Three Israeli military vessels were following the boat.
This is the third time activists from around the world have made their way toward Gaza to put pressure on Israel to end the suffocating blockade of the disputed territory.
The Israeli government calls the flotillas illegal. A similar event in 2010 ended in tragedy when Israeli forces attacked the flotilla, killing several activists.
"This flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting the Hamas terrorist organization and ignores all of the horrors in our region," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "We are not prepared to accept the entry of war materiel to the terrorist organizations in Gaza as has been done by sea in the past."
The Palestinian Gaza strip has been under siege (a land, air and sea blockade) by Israel since 2007.
Israel holds that the blockade is necessary to limit rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on its cities and to prevent Hamas from obtaining other weapons.
Needless to say, it is the people of Gaza who suffer and often lack the most basic of necessities.