Thu, January 15, 2009
World > Middle East > Israeli assault on Gaza

Israeli navy blocks Iranian ship from Gaza shore

2009-01-14 17:25:17 GMT2009-01-15 01:25:17 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

JERUSALEM, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli navy on Wednesday denied an Iranian ship carrying aid supplies access to the coast of Gaza Strip, local news service Ynet reported.

The vessel, loaded with medicine, food and clothing, approached Gazan waters for the first time in the early hours of Wednesday after a stop at an Egyptian port, and was informed that it would not be allowed to reach the Gazan shore due to the blockade imposed by Israel, said the report.

The ship, the first Iranian vessel to try to reach Gaza since Israel imposed the siege in 2007, attempted to approach Gaza again on Wednesday morning, but an Israeli missile boat contacted its crew and repeated the denial of access, added the report. No clash was reported.

The Jewish state tightened its blockade on the Palestinian enclave when Hamas, which Israel blacklists as a terrorist group, forcibly took over the strip from Fatah one and a half years ago.

The move, which Israel said was aimed to prevent weaponry smuggling, has triggered international concerns over the humanitarian situation in the crowded and impoverished coastal area.

During the 19-day-old Israeli military operation in Gaza, Palestinian and UN officials have reported a worsening humanitarian crisis in the enclave with some 1.5 million residents, of whom about a half are refugees.

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