Israel intercepts ship trying to break Gaza blockade, Australian on board

The al Aqsa compound is one of the most fractious issues in the Israel Palestinian conflict

By the end of 2016, almost two million Gazans were depending on global aid in order to survive while almost half of the families in Gaza lacked access to secure food supplies, according to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Israel naval vessels intercepted two protest ships attempting to break the maritime barricade of the Gaza Strip Sunday and escorted them to the Ashdod port, the IDF said in a statement.

Two months ago the ship left the Danish port of Copenhagen.

Under Israel's restrictive policy, Palestinians are not allowed to leave or enter the Gaza Strip.

European activists and a Jordanian lawmaker are on board al-Awda, which is supposedly carrying medical aid for Gaza residents, he added.

"The continued Israeli attacks against occupied Jerusalem will increase tensions and will drag the region into a religious war that we have long warned against", Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office said in a statement.

The navy said it informed the passengers that they were "violating the legal naval blockade", and that if they had humanitarian aid to deliver, there were other ways to get it to Gaza.

The Israeli military said troops opened fire to hold off thousands of Palestinians, some of whom threw rocks and rolled burning tyres at the border fence in attempts to sabotage it.

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The activists stressed that they would resist Israel's expected takeover of the boats in non-violent ways, reports said.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said that as such the blockade of Gaza should come to an end and the freedom of movement for all Palestinians must be restored.

Israel says it is crucial to prevent Hamas, a group sworn to Israel's destruction, from arming.

The botched raid angered Turkey and saw it cut off ties with Israel until 2016.

Their sailing boat was halted by the Israeli navy and taken to Ashdod, about 30km north of Gaza, and the women were detained before being deported.

Most of the Palestinians killed were members of the Hamas terror group, according to the group itself.

One Israeli soldier has been killed in the same time period.

The IDF carried out a strike on a target in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip in the early hours of Sunday - according to local sources which also claimed two people were killed in the strike.

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