France expects Israel to act responsibly aboard Gaza yacht

19th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

France called Tuesday for Israel to act responsibly towards pro-Palestinian activists aboard a French yacht boarded by Israeli troops as it tried to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

"We've told the Israeli authorities over the last few days that if this French boat tried to break the blockade and if the Israeli authorities decided to stop it, we expect them to act with responsibility and moderation, respecting all our citizens' rights and allowing their prompt return to France," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told journalists.

"The French ambassador to Israel passed this message yesterday and this morning to the Israeli national security advisor and the foreign ministry. We passed the same message this morning to the Israeli ambassador to France."

"The French embassy and the French consulate in Tel Aviv are mobilised to exercise consular protection for our nationals," Valero added.

The French foreign ministry has said that 11 of the 16 people on board are French nationals.

Israeli troops boarded the MV Dignite/Al Karama on Tuesday morning after surrounding it in international waters as it headed for the Gaza Strip in a bid to break the Israeli blockade of the isolated Hamas-run territory.

The Israeli military said the operation was carried out without violence and that the boat was being towed to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod.

The ministry said it had advised its nationals not to take part in the voyage to Gaza and that it continued to call for Israel to lift its blockade of the territory.

The yacht headed for Gaza despite Israeli warnings that it would intercept the ship -- the only boat remaining from a 10-vessel flotilla that had been due to sail for Gaza at the end of June.

In May 2010, Israeli troops raided a six-vessel flotilla led by the Mavi Marmara also trying to break the Gaza blockade, killing nine Turkish activists and prompting international criticism.

© 2011 AFP

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