Israel Navy soldiers board Gaza-bound vessels, lead them to Ashdod Port

Boarding was carried out in line with directives from the Israeli Government

Date: 04/11/2011, 4:20 PM     Author: IDF Website

16:15 - A short while ago, Israel Navy soldiers boarded the vessels which were en-route to the Gaza Strip, attempting to break the maritime security blockade that is in place in accordance with international law.
 The boarding was carried out in line with directives from the Israeli Government and after all attempts to prevent the vessels from reaching the Gaza Strip were made, but to no avail.
The boarding was carried out following numerous calls to the activists onboard and during different points at sea. Following their unwillingness to cooperate and divert to the Ashdod port, it was decided to board the ships and lead them to Ashdod.
The Israel Navy soldiers operated as planned, and took every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of the activists onboard the vessels as well as themselves. Upon boarding the ships, the activists' well-being was confirmed and they were offered food and beverages.
Upon arrival of the vessels at the Ashdod port, the activists will be transferred to the custody of the Israel Police and immigration authorities in the Ministry of Interior. It should be re-emphasized, that any organization or state who wishes to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip can do so via the existing land crossings in coordination with the Israeli authorities.

15:15 - IDF Chief of Staff has ordered the israel navy to board the vessels, after all attempt to contact the vessels - failed.

14:00 - A short while ago, initial contact was made between the Israel Navy and the vessels Tahrir and Saorise which are sailing towards the Gaza Strip.

The Israel Navy notified the vessels that the area they are en-route to, off the coast of Gaza, is under a maritime security blockade in accordance with international law. The Israel Navy advised the vessels that they may turn back at any point, thereby not breaking the maritime security blockade.

In addition, Israel Navy soldiers presented the activists onboard with the legal options of transferring supplies to the Gaza via the existing land crossings and after coordinating with the relevant Israeli Authorities.

According to international law, it is lawful for Israel to impose a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip because it is currently in a state of armed conflict with the Hamas terrorist organization, the ruling entity of the Gaza Strip (see the law of blockade for more information). The Hamas terrorist organization is designated as a terrorist entity by the US, UK, EU and state of Israel.

Since taking over the Gaza Strip in 2007, the Hamas terrorist organization has launched thousands of rockets into major Israeli population centers, populated by one million Israeli civilians. During the last decade, Hamas has orchestrated a long series of suicide bombings, killing hundreds of Israeli civilians. The Hamas terrorist organization continues to smuggle rockets into Gaza via the sea and underground tunnels.