Activists aboard a flotilla to Gaza [file].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Israeli Navy prevented a flotilla which had set off from the Gaza Strip from breaching the naval blockade on Tuesday, the IDF spokesperson reported.
Approximately eight Palestinians were onboard the boat.
This is the second time in the past two months that Palestinians from Gaza have sent a flotilla into the Mediterranean in an attempt to breach the naval blockade.
The spokesperson added that the naval blockade is "a necessary and legal security measure that has been recognized repeatedly by the world and the UN as [an] important [measure] for the security of the State of Israel...in the face of terror and the smuggling of weapons."
"The IDF will continue to enforce [the blockade] and to defend the maritime borders of Israel, and its civilians."
In an interview on Army Radio commemorating four years since the start of Operation Protective Edge, IDF Spokesperson -Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis affirmed that the IDF has "a basket of tools [to use against Hamas], defensive, offensive, and technological, in order to restore a sense of security."
He stated that though Israel does not want an escalation to occur, it is more prepared for one than it has been at any point in the last four years.
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The group of Gazan activists who set sail Tuesday morning were attempting to "break the siege" of Gaza, according to their claims on Monday.
At a press conference Monday, the National Organizing Committee of the Great Return March claimed that a group of small boats with patients and wounded would seek to leave Gaza en route to Cyprus.
According to London-based Arab news site The New Arab, Salah Abdul Atti, an organizer, called on the UN to protect the group of boats. A similar attempt was made in late May and intercepted by Israel’s navy.
In May 2010, a large Gaza flotilla of six ships was intercepted and nine activists killed in clashes. In 2011, a new flotilla stalled after one of the ships mysteriously suffered mechanical problems in Greece. Since then the phenomenon of flotillas has been on hiatus.
Israel maintains a maritime security cordon around Gaza in which Palestinian fishermen are allowed to fish within nine nautical miles of the coast.
Outside of the area, vessels are intercepted by the navy. It is rare that Palestinians have sought to breach this area, which they see as a blockade, and sail out of Gaza. Seth J. Frantzman contributed to this report.
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