Israeli naval forces have intercepted a Palestinian vessel hours after it sailed off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip.
The boat, carrying patients, students and people wounded in recent mass protests, was transferred on Tuesday to the Israeli port of Ashdod, according to the Israeli army.
The 17 people on board were attempting to break an Israeli-imposed siege for the first time in more than a decade and had set off with the intention of reaching Limassol, a coastal city in southern Cyprus.
The intercepted boat had crossed nine nautical miles (16km) before four Israeli warships flanked the vessel.
Under the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, Israel is obligated to permit fishing up to 20 nautical miles, but this has never been implemented.
Boats are often limited to six nautical miles (11km), and Israeli forces regularly fire warning shots to boats attempting to breach it.
Although hundreds of people boarded more than 30 fishing boats in support of the main vessel, they did not cross the six permitted boundary, Ramadan al-Hayek, one of the organizers of the voyage, told Al Jazeera.
Fifteen boats attempted to cross more than nine nautical miles but were met with open fire by Israeli forces. These boats sailed in a show of support and were not aiming to reach Cyprus, al Hayek added.
Passengers had valid passports, with the wounded having made arrangements to receive medical treatment in Turkey prior to leaving Gaza’s seaport.
According to al-Hayek, 17 people were detained by Israeli forces in Ashdod.
Source: Palestine Chronicle