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All-female, pro-Palestinian flotilla headed to Gaza; Israel ready to intercept

By Andrew V. Pestano
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All-female, pro-Palestinian flotilla headed to Gaza; Israel ready to intercept
Palestinians ride a boat as they take part in a rally to show solidarity with a Gaza-bound flotilla of international activists attempting to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza at the Seaport of Gaza City on Wednesday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

GAZA, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday said Israel is prepared to intercept the all-female, Gaza-bound "Zaytouna" flotilla seeking to break through Israel's blockade on the Palestinian territory.

At least 13 activists aboard the flotilla -- dubbed the 'Women's Boat to Gaza' -- hoped to breach the Israeli blockade to Gaza, which Israeli authorities put in place citing security reasons.

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An Israeli security official on Tuesday told the Jerusalem Post that although there is a naval blockade "there is no siege on Gaza." It is unclear if the flotilla has been intercepted yet.

"Israel sends between 800-1,000 trucks with goods everyday," the source said. "Anyone can send goods to the Gaza Strip on the condition that they pass a regulated check, therefore claims of a siege are baseless from the beginning."

The women participating in the flotilla are from Norway, Sweden, Australia, Egypt, Tunisia, Malaysia, Israel, Canada and the United States.

"We all hope that we will break the blockade and celebrate on the shores of Gaza, but in reality, we know that our ships will probably be intercepted by Israeli forces and we will be illegally detained," Wendy Goldsmith, a Canadian member, told Al Jazeera. "We have set our course to challenge Israel's illegal blockade and to bring messages of hope to Gaza."

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In 2010, at least nine activists were killed in a confrontation with Israeli authorities when six civilian flotillas attempted to breach the blockade. Accounts over what led to the activists' deaths have been contested by pro-Palestinian organization and Israeli authorities.

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