Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Israeli navy takes over French provocateur yacht (updated x2)

Latest from JPost:
The Israel Navy commandeered and intercepted the Gaza-bound French ship Dignity - Al-Karama after negotiations to persuade pro-Palestinian activists aboard to divert their course away from the Strip's closed naval blockade failed.

IDF soldiers did not encounter any resistance during the interception.
Reports say that it is headed to Ashdod.

Earlier JPost:

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz ordered the Israel Navy to commandeer and intercept the Gaza-bound French ship Dignity - Al-Karama on Tuesday after negotiation efforts to persuade the yacht to revert its course failed.

The navy warned pro-Palestinian activists aboard the vessel that soldiers are preparing to board the yacht after making initial radio contact with the crew. The navy instructed the crew not to enter the closed naval blockade of the Strip, the IDF Spokesperson said in a statement.

"We are getting ready to board the ship, we'll do it calmly," an official aboard the navy boat's told the captain of the Dignity.

Activists were offered the legal alternative of reaching Gaza through land crossings, the IDF added.

Three navy ships were on the yacht's left side and another on the right side, activists reported.
Communication from the boat was cut a couple of hours ago, so there are few tweets from the floaters.

Here is IDF video of communications with the boat:

UPDATE: From the IDF:

In accordance with government directives, after all diplomatic channels had been exhausted and continuous calls to the vessel had been ignored, IDF Navy soldiers boarded the Al-Karamein an effort to stop it from breaking the maritime security blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Upon expressing their unwillingness to arrive at the Ashdod port, it was unequivocally necessary to board the vessel and lead it to Ashdod.

The soldiers operated in line with procedures and took every precaution necessary while using all operational tactics determined prior to the operation, and avoid causing harm to the activists on-board while ensuring the safety of the soldiers. Following the boarding, the passengers’ health was examined and they were offered food and beverages.

Upon the arrival of the vessel at the Ashdod port, the relevant security authorities and the Israel Police will begin the process of questioning the passengers, who will then be transferred to the Ministry of Interior and the Immigration authorities.

Any organization or country wishing to transfer supplies to the Gaza Strip can do so through the existing channels at any time via the established land crossings by coordinating with the relevant authorities.