The ship’s eight crew members will be transferred to the custody of the appropriate authorities; the humanitarian aid cargo will be transported to the Gaza Strip. LAST UPDATED: June 5th, 18:47

Date: 05/06/2010, 10:49 AM     Author: IDF (Zahal) Website

On Saturday evening (June 5), the Gaza flotilla ship which was boarded earlier today by Israeli Navy forces 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. After a security inspection, the ship’s humanitarian aid cargo will be transferred to the Gaza Strip for the use by the Gazan civilian population.

During the morning hours naval forces had identified the ship and issued numerous calls for it to dock in the Ashdod port and transfer the goods via the formal land crossings to the Gaza Strip. The calls were ignored and it became clear that the boat intended to reach Gaza’s shores. The Israeli Navy contacted the boat and clarified again that the Gaza Strip was under maritime closure and due to security risks in the area, the ship would not be permitted to enter.

As the repeated calls were ignored, IDF (Zahal) naval commandos boarded the ship with the full compliance of its crew members. No violence or injuries amongst the soldiers or the crew were reported, as the use of force was unnecessary and no shots were fired.

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. However, any organization or country wishing to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip can do so legally via the established land crossings by coordinating with the relevant authorities, as is done on a near daily basis.

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 carrying the flotilla’s cargo transported it to the Gaza Strip and unloaded it at the Kerem Shalom security crossing.

The international 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, such as in this case: Declarations by the flotilla’s organizers prior to the interception, and their reactions to the messages that were transmitted to them during their approach, clearly show that they had indeed intended to break the naval blockade, thus allowing for the steps taken by IDF (Zahal) forces.