Israel: Foreigners on Gaza-bound ship leaving

July 20, 2011 - 1:59 AM

JERUSALEM (AP) — An Israeli official says all 15 foreigners aboard an intercepted Gaza-bound ship will return home by the end of the day.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said Wednesday one person already has flown out.

Israeli naval commandos took over the French boat Tuesday to preserve Israel's sea blockade of Gaza. The military reported no resistance during the takeover.

The ship was then towed to an Israeli port.

Israel says the four-year-old blockade is necessary to prevent arms smuggling to Gaza's ruling Hamas militant group.

The takeover was the latest in a series of run-ins on the high seas between the Israeli navy and pro-Palestinian activists. A naval raid of a Turkish-led flotilla last year turned violent, and nine activists were killed.