Israeli naval forces have boarded two boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists bound for the Gaza Strip, foiling the latest attempt to break the four-year Israeli blockade of the territory.
The Canadian vessel Tahrir and the Irish boat MV Saoirse were in international waters, between 40 and 60 miles (64-96kms) from the coast, when they were intercepted on Friday, according to the Israeli military.
Al Jazeera's Casey Kauffman, reporting from aboard the Tahrir, earlier said three Israeli warships had contacted the boat's captain and were approaching it.
The boat, then 80kms off the coast, had continued towards the Gaza Strip with the warships in pursuit, our correspondent said.
The Israeli military said the two vessels, carrying supplies and 27 people, were boarded peacefully after numerous calls to the activists to turn around.
"Following their unwillingness to co-operate, and after ignoring calls to divert to the port of Ashdod, the decision was made to board the vessels and lead them there," the military said in a statement.
In a press release issued by organisers shortly after they said they had lost contact with the two boats, David Heap, a member of the steering committee on board the Tahrir, said the fact the boats had reached international waters was a "victory for the movement".
Both vessels were part of previous attempts to break the siege on the Gaza Strip that was stalled when the Greek government refused to let a flotilla leave from its shores in July this year.
"We are closer to Gaza this time, and hope to get even closer the next time, until we reach our destination," said Heap.
"Despite economic blackmail, despite the previous outsourcing of the blockade to Greece, and despite Israel mobilising a significant portion of its navy to stop us, we are now even closer to reaching Gaza and breaking the blockade."