Israeli defences forces today boarded a ship that was attempting to break the naval blockade of Gaza and escorted it to the port of Ashdod.

Gaza Action Ireland said the SV Estelle was 38 nautical miles from Gaza, in international waters, when it was approached by Israeli patrol boats this morning.

The ship was carrying five parliamentarians - two from Greece and one each from Sweden, Spain and Norway - along with around 25 other activists.

A mission spokesperson said the ship was carrying humanitarian cargo.

A statement on the Israeli Defence Forces website said its soldiers boarded the ship, in accordance with international law and directives from the government, after attempts to prevent the vessel reaching Gaza failed.

The statement said: "Despite numerous calls to the passengers onboard, they remained unwilling to cooperate with Israeli authorities.

"After the passengers ignored calls to change course, the decision was made to board the vessel and lead it to the port of Ashdod".

A military spokeswoman said nobody was hurt when marines boarded the ship.