Israel fires at Malaysian aid ship

2011-05-16 14:01

Jerusalem - Israeli naval forces fired warning shots at a Malaysian aid ship as it approached the Gaza Strip on Monday, forcing the vessel to retreat to Egypt, organisers and the Israeli military said.

"The MV Finch, carrying sewage pipes to Gaza, had warning shots fired at it by Israeli forces in the Palestinian security zone this morning at 06:54," said Shamsul Azhar from the Perdana Global Peace Foundation.

"The vessel was in the Palestinian security zone, about 400m from the Gaza shoreline, when they were intercepted by Israeli naval forces," he said, adding it was now anchored 30 nautical miles away in Egyptian territory.

An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that the vessel, flying a Moldovan flag, had been intercepted as it sailed from Egypt's El-Arish port, where it had been docked for several days.

"A navy patrol boat contacted the vessel, which claimed to be heading for the Gaza shores. Once it crossed into Israeli naval territory and didn't answer calls to turn back, warning shots were fired in the air and it returned to El-Arish," she said.

The Perdana Foundation is helmed by former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad, an 85-year-old firebrand who was a strident critic of the West and Israel over the treatment of Palestinians during his two decades in power.

Volley of gunfire

The organisation was also involved in the first "Freedom Flotilla", a 2010 attempt to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which ended in disaster when naval commandos raided the aid ships, killing nine Turks on board one of the vessels.

Perdana Foundation officials said the MV Finch left the Port of Piraeus in Greece on May 11 for Gaza, carrying plastic pipes to help restore the "devastated" sewage system in Gaza.

Alang Bendahara, a Malaysian journalist on board, said Israeli naval ships stopped the vessel with a volley of gunfire as it approached the shore.

"The Israeli naval vessel fired a warning shot at us upon approaching and asked us to leave the waters but the ship's captain refused and the Israelis fired again, circling the MV Finch before firing twice more," he said.

"At that point they threatened the ship's captain that they would board the vessel and we were forced to turn back, it was lucky that no one was injured.

"Two Egyptian naval vessels were monitoring us and they escorted us once we were in Egyptian waters," said Bendahara.

"They have now boarded our vessel and are inspecting our cargo to make sure there is nothing illegal on board. They will be escorting us to the port of El-Arish because they say they will detain the ship."

The journalist said there were 12 people on board the vessel - seven Malaysians, two Irish nationals, two Indians and a Canadian - including anti-war activists and journalists.

International pressure

Israel has maintained a blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2006, after militants there snatched Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is still being held.

It was tightened a year later when the Islamist Hamas movement seized control of the territory, ousting forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.

Israel says the blockade is meant to stop the ruling Hamas movement from gaining access to weapons, money or material that could be used to attack the Jewish state.

But Palestinians say it prevents them from accessing material and goods that are desperately needed to rebuild infrastructure in the impoverished territory.

Israel agreed to relax some of the embargo's restrictions in July 2010, following a wave of international pressure after the botched raid on the Freedom Flotilla.

The incident sparked heavy criticism of Israel and led to a sharp deterioration in ties between Turkey and the Jewish state.

  • battle4truth - 2011-05-16 14:54

    Let me correct some vital information missing in this article. First there is no Palestinian water zone. The PLO and HAMAS are two different terrostist groups. Gaza is rulled soley by Hamas which is a international recognised terrorist organization. The security zone belongs to Israel according Internationl and UN agreement, and thus allows Israel to control the waters. Now, Gaza do not have a harbour and the result of trying to break the barrier was expected, and purposed to envoke anti-Israel sentiments like some commentators on this article. Everyone knows all goods bound for Gaza is off loaded in Ashkelon, en delivered by truck. The so called freedom flotilla was stopped, inspected, and a house full of weapons was found! So who says this one is carrying sewage pipes? This article only feeds people with misinformation.

      jowza - 2011-05-16 15:00

      keep searching for truth far you have found none

      James - 2011-05-16 15:05

      Truth is ......... Palestine own its own borders and harbours , "Israel" own nothing !!

      tim - 2011-05-16 15:07

      "House full of weapons was found" What have you been smoking dude?? Who found it? Netanyahu complained " our soldiers were attacked with knives and sticks !! So where were the arms??? What UN agreement allows Israel to control the waters?.Follow the link and see the map !!

      Stylin - 2011-05-16 15:16

      Bottom line: Israel have imprisoned Gaza Nelson Mandela was also considered a terrorist whilst South African's were made slavest. The world is suspicious of Israel, they're just too scared (of the US)to take drastic action.

      battle4truth - 2011-05-16 15:28

      #tim The ship was escorted to Ashdod, and weapons were found. mmm, you have wikipedia as proof, shame. Anyone can update wikipedia. Check UN website for who controls what in Israel.

      Adam - 2011-05-16 17:38

      am yisrael chai.

      AlexCT - 2011-05-16 20:39

      @Aldawaimeh: This is the propaganda that I'm talking about. That "quote" has been proved false numerous times, and was completely made up by anti-Zionists/pro-Palestinians. If Ariel Sharon had said that, he would have been thrown out of the Military. "Ouze Merham" is also a fabricated name and CAMERA has itself stated that it has never had a reporter under that name working for them. I don't expect to change your opinion as your anti-Zionism ideas have probably been enshrined into from a very young age, but I hope I can get you to realise that this quote is probably one of the many lies told to you so that you will support the anti-Zionism cause. The following two links are two of many sources of evidence that say that "quote" is completely false.:

  • AlexCT - 2011-05-16 15:11 You can't negate Israels duty to protect its citizens just because you think it's "not fair" that Israel has a superior military. Every time Hamas controlled Gaza gets its hands on weapons it sends them straight into Israel, with the aim of mass civilian casualty. If Gaza was not controlled by a terrorist organization thats sole purpose was to destroy Israel and every single Jew, maybe this wouldn't happen. If Namibia decided that its sole purpose was to destroy South Africa and every single South African and therefore sent rockets over the border at every opportunity, would you not expect the South African military to intercept shipments that have in the past contained masses of weapons that are being used to target South Africa? Stop letting propaganda and your religion cloud your judgement on the situation.

      ismail - 2011-05-16 17:45

      what is not fair is u steal my car...then everyday i see u using my enjoying all of its when u pass me by...u expect me to Clap My bless U...for STEALING...what belongs to me...yes...i am the Title Holder of The please this is not propaganda,,,an has nothing to do with religion...but HUMAN RIGHTS!

      AlexCT - 2011-05-16 20:58

      @ismail: Please read up on the Balfour Declaration, related articles and subsequent happenings. The land given to the Jews in order to establish a Jewish state. As much as this idea causes the rage inside you to build up, you need to learn to deal with it and get over the fact that the Jews also have a "homeland." You can go on about whether or not Britain had the right to be there or not but it boils down to this question: How far back in history do you want to go in order to establish land rights? Unfortunately, you can't choose. Centuries ago land was conquered/bought/taken/stolen/colonized etc. If you want to go back and say that Arabs owned the land because they were the majority at a specific time then why can't black people say that Africa is only for blacks? Indians say that North America is only for Indians? Asians say that Asia is only for Asians? White people to say that Europe is only for white people? You can't just choose a specific time in history and say that because this group of people were living there at a that specific time the land belongs to them. Countries and borders change, and you can either fight it or work with it. The Palestinians chose to vote for a government that wants to start a war with and destroy Israel. They must now deal with the consequences of Israeli retaliation when they send rockets at Israeli civilian targets.

      ismail - 2011-05-16 22:34

      @AlexCT There is no rage inside me...only justice...which i must add will prevail...Balfour did not give Zionists the right to steal an usurp the rights of the Palestinians.Zionists are them...Israel must remain cleansed of ALL NON JEWS...yes...there was a time in History when lawlessness was was theft of the use of wars...and colonisation...but that all changed with the Geneva Convention...sadly Israel is still living in the Dark never forget...the mighty have fallen...

  • tim - 2011-05-16 19:34

    @battle4truth. For the benefit of those not familiar with it why don't you let the readers know what the IDF in stands for? What else will they tell you? BTW look at any map of Gaza and you will the its seawaters

  • tim - 2011-05-16 19:41

    @sylverstar Open you mind. And guess what! NOT a Muslim site

  • Faiz - 2011-05-16 23:50

    i am amazed how people can so easily justify acts of aggression and terror.why don't the people jst check out the goldstone report of the united nations.probably u'll get to know the attrocities the israelis have committed on the helpless palestinians...bombing civilians perhaps seems alright to many of u...or else muslim blood perhaps too cheap tht it fails to get ur the way HAMAS is a democratically elected govt. in the gaza strip..yet it is called a terrorist organization b'coz it fails to conform with the dictates of so called promoters of democracy

  • Aldawaimeh - 2011-05-17 00:11

    AlexCT.. propaganda always called when facts proved its course,i did not creat that quote,its history and if that false what about this:“There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies — not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred meters away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy.” (Israeli President Moshe Katsav, The Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2001) it false,Israel is the only country in the world that created by the UN,and its the only country with no boarders the more they equpy the more they legalise the ocupation and find away to twist the truth,and the facts.

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