All Foreigners Aboard Seized Gaza Flotilla Yacht to Leave Israel by End of Day

Interior Ministry spokeswoman says five foreign activists have already flown out; Dignite Al Karame was intercepted by IDF on Tuesday.

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An Interior Ministry spokeswoman said on Wednesday that all 15 foreigners aboard an intercepted Gaza-bound yacht will return home by the end of the day.

Sabine Haddad said five people have already flown out.

Israeli naval boats escort the Dignite-Al-Karame yacht into the port of Ashdod, July 19, 2011.Credit: AP

The French yacht Dignite Al Karame was intercepted by the Israel Navy on Tuesday after it refused to obey an Israeli demand to change course as it sailed for a Gaza port.

Elite troops from Israel's Shayetet 13 naval commando unit boarded the yacht minutes after Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz issued the order to intercept. The commandos quickly took control of the vessel, with no resistance from those aboard.

"In accordance with government directives, after all diplomatic channels had been exhausted and continuous calls to the vessel had been ignored, IDF (marines) boarded the Karame in an effort to stop it from breaking the maritime security blockade on the Gaza Strip," a military statement said.

Hamas condemned the seizure of the ship, with its spokesman Ismail Rudwan describing it as "piracy, a war crime and a violation of the principles of human rights."

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