It is understood that the 11 activists from the Rachel Corrie vessel have been taken from the detention centre in Holon to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

Israeli Foreign Ministry confirms ship has been seized

It is also understood the activists have agreed with the Israeli authorities to waive their rights to appeal their deportations, and will be put on flights out of Israel as soon as the paperwork is processed.

The Rachel Corrie aid ship docked at the Israeli port of Ashdod after being boarded by Israeli troops some 30km off the coast of Gaza

The vessel was accompanied by two small Israeli naval launches after it was commandeered by Israeli forces in an operation which the military said had been conducted without any violence.

Earlier, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said all 19 people on board would be deported within hours.

The Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said that Israeli forces had stormed and hijacked an unarmed aid ship for the second time in a week.

Five Irish citizens are among the group of international activists aboard the Rachel Corrie who had intended to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza, despite the Israeli blockade.

The aid on board the ship is expected to be checked in Israel and it is thought some or all of it may be transferred to Gaza.

Following the take over of the vessel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying: 'Forces used the same procedures for Monday's flotilla and Saturday's sailing but was met by a different response.

'On today's ship and in five of the six vessels in the previous flotilla, (their boarding) procedure ended without casualties.

'The only difference was with one ship where extremist Islamic activists, supporters of terrorism, waited for our troops on the deck with axes and knives.'

In its statement, the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said the boarding by Israeli forces is in defiance of a direct call from the Irish Government, which had formally requested Israel to allow the ship to reach Gaza allowing the humanitarian cargo to be unloaded.

Israel determined to maintain Gaza blockade

Two Israeli navy ships had been shadowing the Rachel Corrie since dawn.

The Israeli army said that the crew of the aid ship had ignored an order to stop and divert to Israel and that troops were getting ready to board her.

A member of the Rachel Corrie crew this morning claimed that the Israel Defense Forces had jammed its radar system.

Last night Israel offered to take the Rachel Corrie to its port of Ashdod, unload the cargo and truck it to Gaza. This offer was rejected by the Free Gaza Movement, which opposes the Israeli blockade.

A counter-offer to have the cargo checked at sea under UN supervision was turned down by the Israelis.

Israel this week said it was absolutely determined to maintain its blockade of the Palestinian territory of 1.5m people, citing fears that arms supplies could reach Hamas by sea.

On Monday, Israeli navy commandos stormed a Turkish ship, part of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla, killing at least nine people and triggering international condemnation.

Autopsy results showed the activists had been shot a total of 30 times, many at close range, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported today.

Five were killed by gunshots to the head, it said.

In addition to those killed, 48 others received gunshot wounds and six activists are still missing.

Protests held across Europe

Meanwhile, around 1,000 protestors marched through Dublin to the main rally point outside the Department of Foreign Affairs, chanting slogans calling for boycotts to be imposed on Israel and for the Gaza blockade to end.

The Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign organised demonstration departed from Parnell Square.

Speaker Fintan Lane, who was with the flotilla engaged by Israeli commandos on Monday, dismissed claims the Rachel Corrie had agreed to a boarding by Israeli forces this morning saying he believed instead that the ship was taken by force.

Representatives of the trade union movement said positive action was now needed as a result of Israeli action saying workers around the world were developing a boycott programme of Israeli goods that was now gathering momentum as a way of supporting the Palestinian people.

Around 250 people took part in a rally outside Belfast’s City Hall this afternoon in support of the aid workers who had been attempting to bring relief to Gaza.

Some carried Palestinian flags while others held posters condemning Israel and calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.

The rally was addressed by former MP and civil rights campaigner Bernadette McAliskey.

Among those in attendance was Gerry Kelly, the Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Belfast and junior Minister in the Northern Executive.

Some SDLP members were also among the crowd.

The former President of the Belfast Islamic Centre Jamal Iweida also addressed the rally.

Protests have also been taking place in cities across Europe.