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(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday phoned Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and praised him over the Navy's successful interception of the Gaza-bound French ship Dignity - al-Karama earlier in the day.
Netanyahu noted the successful mission of the Shayetet 13 and other forces who were able to take over the ship without violence and without causing any casualties.
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A statement from the Prime Minister's Office said, "Israel will continue to enforce the naval blockade [on Gaza] to prevent the smuggling of weapons and missiles."
Earlier Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak also praised Gantz, as well as Navy Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom and IDF soldiers for the smooth interception of the French ship.
The extensive diplomatic work of the Prime Minister's Office, the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry succeeded in reducing the number of people participating in the Gaza flotilla, Barak said in a statement.
Shortly before the takeover, Gantz ordered the navy to take control of the yacht as he was overseeing the operation from an underground command center at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv (kirya). Gantz gave the command to Marom who was at sea with the forces.
Navy soldiers did not encounter any resistance during the interception which resulted after the ship's captain refused to cooperate with the IDF's demand to divert its course to the Ashdod Port, the IDF Spokesperson said in a statement.
The Dignity was carrying 17 pro-Palestinian activists. It was part of the Free Gaza Movement’s flotilla that was canceled earlier this month after Greece refused to allow the ships to leave its ports for the Gaza Strip.
Hamas on Tuesday condemned the seizure of the French ship
, with spokesman Ismail Rudwan describing it as "piracy, a war crime and a violation of the principles of human rights."Reuters contributed to this report.