Israel was set to expel 11 pro-Palestinian activists as early as Sunday, a day after intercepting their ship trying to carry aid directly to the Gaza Strip in defiance of a blockade.
The Rachel Corrie aid ship was escorted to the southern port of Ashdod on Saturday after being seized by the Israeli navy, with no repetition of the bloody violence when commandos stormed another Gaza-bound aid boat last Monday.
The 11 activists and eight crew on board were taken to the Holon immigration centre near Tel Aviv for questioning, before being transferred to Ben Gurion international airport for deportation as early as Sunday, officials said.
The expulsion of the activists, six Malaysians and five Irish nationals, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, has been delayed by their "refusal to sign a waiver of an appeal against such a measure before Israeli courts," said an Israeli immigration service spokeswoman.
"We are trying to convince all of the passengers and members of the crew to sign the document. Otherwise, in accordance with the law, they risk having to wait up to 72 hours for a judge to decide their fate," she added.
The Israeli military said its forces boarded the Rachel Corrie -- named after a US activist killed in 2003 as she tried to prevent an Israeli bulldozer from razing a Palestinian home -- "with the agreement" of those on board.
"Our forces boarded the boat and took control without meeting any resistance from the crew or the passengers. Everything took place without violence," a spokeswoman said.