Videos: Navy Boards Gaza-Bound 'Tricky' Ship
The Navy has peacefully ended the latest attempt of flotilla activists to reach Gaza and has boarded the "Dignity" ship to guide it to Ashdod after it tricked Greece.
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Naval officers notified the ship in English and French that "it is on a route leading to an area under a maritime security blockade off the coast of Gaza, and reminded them any supplies they may have on-board may be transferred, legally, through the existing land crossings and the Ashdod Port."
The Navy vessels had placed themselves on both sides of the “Dignity” boat, and activists on board reported that F-15 jets flew overhead.
Greece had placed a maritime blockade on boats trying to reach Hamas-controlled Gaza but allowed the Dignity to sail after its crew and 13 passengers said their destination was Alexandria, Egypt. The passengers include three journalists, one of them from Israel.
After the boat sailed out of Greece’s territorial waters, it changed course for Gaza. Free Gaza spokeswoman Greta Berlin said the maneuver was legal, explaining that a ship is allowed to change its stated destination after leaving port.
Israel has placed a maritime embargo on Gaza as a measure to prevent the Hamas terrorist organization from smuggling more weapons, missiles, explosives and terrorists into the region. The United States has outlawed Hamas, and the Israel Law Forum has warned insurance companies, maritime communications firms and governments that they risk being sued if they supply equipment or allow ships to sail to Gaza.
“We shall intercept it [the Dignity boat], but I assure you we shall try our best to make those on board very comfortable,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said.
The ship is the only one of 10 that had been scheduled to sail in a flotilla to Gaza to challenge Israel’s embargo. The flotilla effort sank after Israel’s diplomatic efforts convinced world leaders, including the United Nations, that sailing to Gaza is a provocative action.
Activists wanting to bring aid to Gaza are free to do so through overland routes via Israel’s crossings or Egypt, but the flotilla activists have admitted their aim is to break the Israeli counterterrorist embargo.