(Photo: IDF Spokesperson)
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)
IDF naval commandos boarded the ship attempting to break the maritime closure of the Gaza Strip with the full compliance of the ship’s crew members. According to initial reports, there was no violence or injuries amongst the soldiers or the crew, as the use of force was unnecessary and no shots were fired.
Shortly before 18:30, the ship docked at the Israeli port of Ashdod, after attempting to break the maritime closure of the Gaza Strip.
Nineteen people were onboard the boat, including eight crew members, all of whom will be transferred to the custody of the appropriate authorities in the Interior Ministry. The cargo found onboard will be transferred to the Gaza Strip following security inspection..
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire being aided off the
Rachel Corrie at Ashdod port (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)
The following is a transcript of the radio transmission recording:
Israeli Navy: I’d like to propose something else. First I’d like to make clear it is not our desire, I repeat, it is not our desire, to board your boat. My proposal is as follows: We escort you to Ashdod Port. At the Port of Ashdod you’ll undergo standard inspections, standard of all incoming vessels, and we’ll take it from there in terms of expediting your loading of cargo trucks at the port.
7th Flotilla Ship: How about this for a suggestion…you stop, have a cup of tea, and we’ll continue on to Gaza. We cannot go into Ashdod and off load. I have explained already for circumstances we’ve already gone through that we cannot off load in Ashdod, over.
Israeli Navy: I’ve just been informed I may have not been clear in detailing our previous offer, so I’d like to go over another detail in case you feel I was not clear. Should you agree to come with us to Ashdod and off load your cargo, your cargo would not be delivered to the people of Gaza by the State of Israel. We could do it through an intermediary under the U.N. or an NGO, we have several available willing to help. If you weren’t aware of this issue, it is possible, and we would like to bring this to your attention.
7th Flotilla Ship: The Irish government, I think, had been in talks with the Israeli government seeking safe passage for this ship into Gaza and I think that the best compromise that they could come to was to send this aid to Ashdod. We are further asking to let this ship go to Gaza, over.
Israeli Navy: I’m still hoping we can take this a step ahead and reach a solution.
7th Flotilla Ship: I do too, over.
Israeli Navy: It has been brought to my attention that should it result in the way I proposed, of you coming into Ashdod under escort and offloading the cargo in Ashdod Port, the cement that you said is the bulk of your cargo will be transferred to Gaza. That’s the assurance I have just been given by my superiors. To the best of my knowledge that would be precedent setting. It would something you could take back to your supporters, to your fellow passengers, to the people you say you want to support, and to the government you say you are rebuking for not doing more for Gaza.
Any organization or country wishing to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip can do so legally via the established ground crossings by coordinating with the relevant authorities, as is done on a near daily basis.
The closure of the Gaza Strip prevents the smuggling of arms to the Hamas terror organization and ensures the security of vessels traveling in the area.
It should be noted that Hamas has refused to allow any of the aid carried by the other six flotilla ships into the Gaza Strip thus far. Five days have passed since trucks were loaded with cargo and were ready to enter Gaza.
The rules of warfare allow the capturing of naval vessels prior to their actual violation of a naval blockade. This is dependent on the vessels being on their way to a blockaded area, being outside the territorial waters of neutral states and when there is a substantial likelihood (based on credible evidence) that the vessels intend to violate the blockade.
Declarations by the flotilla’s organizers and their reactions to the messages that were transmitted to them during their approach clearly show that they had intended to break the naval blockade, thus allowing for the steps taken by IDF forces.
Earlier on Saturday, the Israel Navy conveyed the following message to the 7th flotilla ship via radio transmission:
“This is the Israeli Navy. You are approaching an area of hostilities which is under a naval blockade. The Gaza area, coastal region and Gaza harbor are closed to all maritime traffic. The Israeli government supports delivery of humanitarian supplies to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and invites you to enter the Ashdod port. Delivery of the supplies in accordance with the authorities’ regulations will be done via the formal land crossings and under your observation, after which you can return to your home ports aboard the vessels on which you arrived.”
The ship organizers chose to ignore the invitation to dock at the Ashdod port where the cargo could be unloaded and transferred to the Gaza Strip upon inspection.
As of 12:00, 5 June 2010, the Linda (original name of the ship which was renamed the Rachel Corrie) had refused four requests by the Israeli Navy to dock at Ashdod Port where they could unload their aid materials and after a security inspection all goods would be transferred to Gaza via the land crossings.
Israeli Navy ship operators question the Gaza flotilla ship about their next port of destination to which they reply: "Our next port is Gaza port, we will be there for two and half to three days over." The motor vessel Linda is then requested to remain on the channel 1-6 for the navy can continue to communicate with the ship.