Israel Intercepts Gaza-Bound Boatload of Activists
Posted on Jul 19, 2011
Israeli commandos intercepted a boat full of pro-Palestinian activists bound for the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The yacht carrying 16 people was the only vessel of a planned protest flotilla to attempt the voyage. Greek authorities had blocked the others from leaving port.
In order to escape Greek waters, activists aboard the Dignity al-Karama had told authorities they were heading to Alexandria, Egypt. They later changed course toward Gaza, their voyage an attempt to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians under the four-year Israeli blockade.
While Israel took pains to keep Tuesday’s action peaceful, Hamas was quick to brand the event as “piracy, a war crime and a violation of the principles of human rights.” —BF
The Associated Press:
Israeli naval commandos on Tuesday seized control of a French ship attempting to break Israel’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip and towed it into port, reporting no resistance during the takeover in international waters.
The incident was the latest in a series of run-ins on the high seas between the Israeli navy and pro-Palestinian activists trying to breach the blockade. In the most contentious incident, nine Turkish activists were killed in a clash with Israeli commandos last year.
Tuesday’s standoff was far more subdued. The navy intercepted the “Dignity al-Karama” some 40 miles (65 kilometers) off the coast and boarded the ship without incident after the crew ignored calls to change course.
“The takeover was orderly and done with restraint,” the navy’s deputy commander, Brig. Gen. Rani Ben-Yehudah told reporters at the southern Israeli port of Ashdod. “Nobody was hurt and the ship wasn’t damaged.”
AP / Ariel Schalit
An Israeli warship sits offshore after escorting the Dignity al-Karama toward the port of Ashdod on Tuesday. Commandos boarded the ship after the pro-Palestinian activists on board ignored calls to change course.