Gaza-bound yacht escorted to Israel port
Ashdod - A French yacht carrying pro-Palestinian activists which was prevented from reaching Gaza by the Israeli navy was escorted into Ashdod port on Tuesday, an AFP correspondent said.
The MV Dignite/Al Karama entered the port flanked by three small Israeli naval vessels after being intercepted in international waters as it tried to reach Gaza in defiance of Israel's naval blockade on the tiny Palestinian territory.
The military said the 16 people on board, three of whom are journalists, would be questioned by Israel police then transferred to the interior ministry and the immigration authorities, with the expectation they would be deported.
One of the passengers is Amira Hass, a veteran Israeli columnist who covers Palestinian affairs for the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper. The other two journalists work for Al-Jazeera television.
Last month, Israel pledged that foreign journalists covering the arrival of what had been expected to be a 10-ship flotilla to Gaza would not face the same sanction as other participants.
Earlier, the military said the boat had been boarded without violence and that the crew and passengers were transferred to one of the Israeli naval vessels.
The move to board the boat came some four hours after navy boats had surrounded the French-flagged yacht in international waters, 40 nautical miles (74km) off the Gaza shoreline, organisers said.