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Israel boards Gaza aid ship

Israel's navy boarded a ship carrying aid to Gaza without incident on Saturday, five days after its troops killed nine people on a Turkish aid ship while enforcing a blockade Washington has called "unsustainable".

world Updated: Jun 06, 2010 00:49 IST

Israel's navy boarded a ship carrying aid to Gaza without incident on Saturday, five days after its troops killed nine people on a Turkish aid ship while enforcing a blockade Washington has called "unsustainable".

The Israeli navy, whose actions on Monday triggered an international outcry, took control of the Rachel Corrie after it ignored orders to divert to Israel's Ashdod port and allow its cargo to be inspected before delivery to Gaza.

Carrying Irish and other activists, the Rachel Corrie — named after a pro-Palestinian activist killed in Gaza in 2003 — was the latest attempt to break the four-year old blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza with the stated aim of stopping its Hamas rulers from bolstering their arsenal to fight the Jewish state.

"Israel will continue to exercise its right to self defence. We will not allow the establishment of an Iranian port in Gaza," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

Friends and foes alike have heaped criticism on Israel this week over the blockade.

While the United States, Israel's main ally, has expressed more sympathy than most for its security concerns, it has also spoken of the need for Palestinians in Gaza to receive adequate supplies and signaled that the embargo cannot
continue in its current form.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay increased the pressure on Israel, saying the embargo, which has blighted the lives of the 1.5 million people, was illegal and should be lifted.

In Turkey, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan harangued Israel on Friday about ignoring the Biblical commandment "Thou shalt not kill".

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