Naval commandos intercepted a Liberian-flagged German vessel 160 miles off the Israeli coast on Sunday afternoon, on suspicion that it was carrying weaponry. Initial examination of the cargo, however, turned up nothing problematic, and the commandos were expected to let the ship continue on its way.
The ship was en route from Lebanon to Alexandria, Egypt, and the fear was that it was carrying arms meant for Gaza or the Sinai.
Commandos unpacked containers on the vessel, and found nothing suspicious. The captain of the vessel was reported to be cooperating with Israeli authorities.
Israel maintains a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, for fear that Gaza’s Hamas rulers would abuse open access to import missiles and other weapons.
In May 2010, naval commandos intercepted a flotilla designed to breach the blockade, and nine Turkish citizens were killed on one of the vessels, the Mavi Marmara, where the commandos came under attack. The incident led to a drastic deterioration in relations between Turkey and Israel.