Israel was adamant on Monday that its navy would stop a boatload of Jewish activists headed for Gaza if they insisted on trying to run the blockade of the coastal strip.
Foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said so far there had been no contact with the crew of the "Irene," which left Cyprus on Sunday, and he did not know its current position. He said that if the vessel headed for the Egyptian port of El-Arish or Ashdod in Israel it would be allowed to proceed unhindered.
"The intention is to establish radio contact with them and ascertain where they intend to go," Palmor told AFP. If they say Gaza, then we shall explain to them that to (sail) to Gaza is forbidden. If they insist on entering the banned zone, 20 miles (32 kilometres) off the Gaza coast, they will be stopped and taken to Ashdod," he said.
Yonatan Shapira, one of the seven activists on the small British-flagged sailing boat, told AFP by satellite phone on Sunday that they were not looking for a fight. We have a policy of non-violence and non-confrontation," said the former Israeli combat pilot. "But if the Israeli army stops the boat, we will not help them to take it to Ashdod."