(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)
Shortly after 15:00, an Israeli Navy force intercepted, boarded, and took control of the cargo boat ‘Arion,’ which was bearing the flag of Greece and was illegally attempting to enter the Gaza Strip.
The boat departed from Cyprus yesterday. Yesterday evening, the Israeli Navy contacted the boat while at sea, clarifying that it would not be permitted to enter Gazan coastal waters because of security risks in the area and the existing naval blockade.
Disregarding all warnings made, the cargo boat entered Gazan coastal waters. As a result of the actions taken by the boat crew, an Israeli Navy force intercepted, boarded, and took control of the boat, directing it towards Ashdod, Israel.
No shots were fired during the boarding of the boat. The boat crew will be handed over to the appropriate authorities.
Humanitarian goods found on board the boat will be transferred to the Gaza Strip, subject to authorization.
The IDF Spokesperson Unit would like to emphasize that any organization or country that wishes to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, can legally do so via the established crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip with prior coordination.
* * *
In accordance with internationally recognized agreements between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, the territorial waters off the Gaza coast are under Israeli security control and responsibility. Therefore, foreign vessels will not be permitted to sail in this naval territory.
Multiple ground crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel exist, as determined by agreements between Israel and the Palestinians which are supported by the international community. Those who seek to transfer international aid into the Gaza Strip can do so through these existing channels.
The protest claims that its primary purpose is to "break the siege". In truth, it functions as a mere provocation, deliberately flaunting international agreements. In 2009 alone, the Gaza Strip has received over 300,000 tons of humanitarian supplies (see table below). In some cases, this has led to a surplus of humanitarian aid, with reports of Gaza civilians selling extra aid which they possess.
However, once the humanitarian support does enter the Gaza Strip, it is not uncommon for the Hamas to reroute it, preserving their own interests. Civilians frequently complain of unfairness in the distribution process, which favors Hamas-affiliated civilians and discriminates against Fatah supporters.
In other cases, convoys and warehouses belonging to international organizations , such as UNRWA, have been commandeered by the Hamas. For example, on January 20th, a convoy of trucks from Jordan entered the Gaza Strip through Kerem Shalom crossing and was redirected by armed militants to Hamas warehouses.
The crossings remain open, while food, medical equipment and other supplies continue to be transferred. The scope of the activity at the crossings is a function of the Palestinian needs and in spite of the persistent attempts by terrorist organizations to impede them or carry out terrorist attacks in their vicinity.
For example, on June 8th, a squad of terrorists with light-arms explosive devices and five horses rigged with explosives were detected north of the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, a terminal which has transferred over 45 million tons of fuel into the Gaza Strip since January.
Yet another example occurred on June 21st, when a routine IDF patrol near Kissufin crossing discovered 4 explosive charges near the fence. As sappers worked to defuse the charges, terrorists opened light-arm fire and mortar fire at the force. In addition, the crossings have been a frequent target in the past, all in effort to artificially manufacture humanitarian crises in the area.
The humanitarian efforts must be supported in a way which strengthens Abu Mazen and other moderate regional actors, preventing the Hamas from exploiting the aid to bolster its military capabilities or its rule in Gaza.
The Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip is a terrorist entity which continues to arm itself and build its military capabilities, functioning as an Iranian proxy in the radical axis.
The IDF enforces government policies and protects the states’ borders and security. It will not shy away from taking operative measures if necessary. IDF operations rely on accepted methods, adhering to legal requirements.
The international community must preserve the international, political and economic pressure on the Hamas as long as it refuses to accept the international community’s terms. The Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip is a terrorist entity which persistently targets the Israeli home-front (since the operation, 106 rockets and 65 mortar shells have been fired at Israel) in an effort to promote its force building, preparing for the next round with Israel.
 The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (1995) states that "[Israel has] the responsibility for defense against external threats, including for defense against external threats from the sea and from the air". Regarding foreign vessels, the agreement continues that they may "not approach closer than 12 nautical miles from the coast".
 Article published in the Gaza Strip daily newspaper – Al-Ayyam – on April 27th, 2009.
 For more information on this matter, view: "The Gaza Strip after Operation Cast Lead", Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center [June, 2009] or "Hamas Lashes Out at the UNRWA Chief in the Gaza Strip", Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center [April, 2009]
Humanitarian supplies to Gaza – 2009
Fuel (million, tons)
Heating Gas (lt.)