"I would like to transfer a message once more that has already been conveyed through public and private channels, to the ship Rachel Corrie currently making its way to Gaza," the ministry's director-general, Yossi Gal, said in a statement.
"We have no interest in boarding the ship. If it sails directly to the Ashdod port, we will secure its crew and refrain from boarding it. Israel is prepared to receive the ship and unload its cargo. After it is checked to make sure it contains no weapons we will be prepared to transfer all of the goods to Gaza," he added.
Gal also invited the activists on board to accompany the shipment to the Gazan border. "We will cooperate with the UN and international organizations in order to ensure that all of the cargo is put to the use of Gaza's citizens," the statement said.
An Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate on the ship, Mairead McGuire, said activists were determined to press on but would offer no resistance if Israeli forces came aboard.
"We will sit down," she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the ship. "They will probably arrest us ... But there will be no resistance."
Maguire told Irish radio RTE that though the crew realized Israel wanted them to sail the Rachel Corrie to Ashdod, they had no intention of doing so. She said their aim was "to break the siege on Gaza" and that they were not afraid. She added that Israel had not contacted the ship.
On Friday morning Audrey Bomse, one of the organizers of the Gaza aid flotilla, told Ynet that following Israel's sabotage of press vessels meant to follow the Rachel Corrie it would be recalled to Ireland and undergo repairs.
But Greta Berlin, of the Free Gaza Movement, told Ynet the ship would continue its route to Gaza and may arrive by Friday evening.
Bomse told Ynet that as the ship left Cyprus a malfunction was detected in two of the accompanying vessels, Challenger 1 and Challenger 2. According to her, Israel admitted to resorting to "grey" measures to stop the flotilla.