ASHDOD (AFP) - Israeli commandos on Tuesday boarded a French yacht heading for Gaza in defiance of its naval blockade, and escorted it to shore after what the military said was an uneventful takeover. An army spokesman confirmed the interception of the MV Dignite/Al Karama had been conducted without violence and said that the crew and passengers were put on an Israeli naval vessel headed to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod. IDF navy soldiers boarded the Al Karama in an effort to stop it from breaking the maritime security blockade on the Gaza Strip, a military statement said, indicating the move had come after all diplomatic channels had been exhausted and continuous calls to the vessel had been ignored. Four hours later, the yacht was escorted into Ashdod port by three Israeli warships and the passengers were taken off for interrogation by the police in a move which was denounced by the organisers. The boarding (of the yacht) is an act of violence and an illegal act, the Paris-based organisers said in a statement, describing it as a new act of piracy against harmless people. Forcefully bringing a boat and its passengers to Ashdod port with weapons and military vessels, is an act of violence which must be condemned, just like the blockade of Gaza, it said. We are not yet sure there was no violence, as claimed by the Israeli army, because it has not been possible to contact the passengers. The military said the 16 people on board, three of whom are journalists, would be questioned by Israeli police then transferred to the interior ministry and the immigration authorities, with the expectation they would be deported. Eleven of them are French, while other passengers are from Sweden, Canada, Greece and Israel. Of the three journalists, one is Amira Hass, a veteran Israeli columnist who covers Palestinian affairs for the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper, while the other two work for Al-Jazeera television. Last month, Israel pledged that foreign journalists covering the arrival of what had been expected to be a 10-ship flotilla to Gaza would not face the same sanction as other participants. The yacht charted its course for Gaza despite Israeli warnings that it would intercept the only boat remaining from a 10-vessel flotilla that had been due to sail for Gaza at the end of June. The Dignite/Al Karama had hoped to reach Gaza around midday but was blocked by at least three Israeli ships in the early morning, with the soldiers making clear they would not allow the activists to reach their destination. The yacht had set sail from the Greek island of Kastellorizo on Saturday evening following a troubled stay in Greece, after Athens imposed a ban on the departure of any ships involved in the flotilla. Gazas Hamas rulers also responded angrily to the takeover, with spokesman Taher al-Nunu angrily denouncing Israels Zionist piracy and blaming the United Nations for not punishing the Jewish state over its deadly raid on a six-vessel flotilla that set sail in May 2010, led by the Mavi Marmara.