Israel intercepts Gaza-bound boat

2011-07-19 15:17

Ashdod - Israel commandos on Tuesday boarded a French yacht heading for Gaza in defiance of its naval blockade, and were bringing it to shore after what the military said was an uneventful takeover.

An army spokesperson 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".

All 16 people on board the vessel had been offered food, drink and medical exams, it added.

Israeli sailors were bringing the yacht to Ashdod, where it and the occupants were expected to arrive before nightfall, the spokesperson said.

The move to board the boat came some four hours after navy boats had surrounded the French-flagged yacht in international waters, 40 nautical miles off the Gaza shoreline, organisers said.

Military logic

In a statement, the organisers denounced the navy's move to board the boat and urged the French government "to take its responsibilities and to protect the passengers, and to call on Israel not resort to violence".

"The deployment of Israeli military commandos to board this small boat... clearly demonstrates the military logic of Israeli policy, which speaks only the language of force," they said.

The boat had planned to arrive at Gaza's coast around midday on Tuesday, breaching Israel's blockade of the Palestinian territory.

But the Israeli naval forces that surrounded the boat made it clear that the activists would not be permitted to arrive in Gaza, calling on them to change course and head to the Egyptian port of El-Arish, an Israeli military source said.

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.

As they embarked on the final stretch of their journey early on Tuesday, activists on board tweeted via @BateauGazaFr that they were still determined to reach Gaza.

Hamas denounces action

"We're cleaning ourselves up a little bit before arriving. Morale here is like the sky and sea - very good," wrote one French activist, while another added in English: "Gaza, off we go, stay connected!!!"

The yacht headed for Gaza despite Israeli warnings that it would intercept the ship - the only boat remaining from a 10-vessel flotilla that had been due to sail for Gaza at the end of June.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesperson Taher al-Nunu angrily denounced Israel's "Zionist piracy" and blamed the United Nations for not punishing Israel over its raid on a six-vessel flotilla that set sail in May 2010, led by the Mavi Marmara.

The raid left nine Turkish activists dead and prompted international criticism of Israel and a breakdown in ties with Ankara.

"This is a new act of Zionist piracy and the United Nations bears part of the responsibility because of its failure to punish Israel for its crimes against the Marmara, which encouraged it to continue to act in this aggressive and illegal way," Nunu said.

"The international community must now take a clear stand on whether the siege on Gaza is legal and moral or not... and the answer will certainly be that it is illegal and immoral, which requires a serious stand against Israel that does not involve political hypocrisy and double standards."

Israel insists its blockade is both legal and necessary to prevent Hamas from obtaining funds and weapons in order to attack the Jewish state.

But Thomas Sommer-Houdeville, a French activist on board, said the yacht was carrying nothing but a "symbolic message of peace and hope and love" and that Israel had no reason to intercept it.

Read more on:    gaza  |  france  |  israel
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
27 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.
 

Inside News24

 
 

DA wants to empower fishing communities - Zille

DA leader Helen Zille says the party has a plan for harbours and small-scale fishing communities.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Grabouw - 10:15 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS approaching Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Note 16GB

GALAXY Note combines the market's largest HD Super AMOLED display,...

From R3899.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.