Navy peacefully diverts Gaza-bound Jewish activists

Former Israel Air Force pilot Yonatan Shapira claims he was physically assaulted by IDF soldiers during the maneuver.

By
September 29, 2010 07:00
2 minute read.
THE ‘IRENE’ is boarded yesterday by Israel Navy co

Irene 311. (photo credit: IDF)

 
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The Israel Navy intercepted a yacht trying to break the Israel-imposed sea blockade on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

The ship, carrying a group of Jewish passengers from around the world, was boarded by soldiers and was then diverted to the Ashdod Port.

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The boarding of the ship took place as it entered restricted waters off the coast of Israel and it met no resistance.

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The ship had been shadowed since late Monday night by two navy vessels.

“It is unfortunate that the navy has to be distracted from preventing terror and weapons-smuggling to deal with this kind of provocation,” the IDF said in a statement.

Before the takeover, the navy issued two warnings to the yacht, saying those aboard were breaking Israeli and international law. The captain ignored the warnings and the ship entered blockaded waters.

Former Israel Air Force pilot Yonatan Shapira, one of the activists on the Irene, claimed he had been physically assaulted by IDF soldiers during the maneuver.

“There are no words to describe what we went through on that boat. The IDF is trying to put a media spin on events, saying it was a non-violent takeover, but the soldiers’ actions were violent and disgusting. I was tasered.



“Our message is that the occupation of Gaza cannot continue,” he added.

The Irene, which was carrying nine Jewish activists from Israel and other countries, set sail from Cyprus on Sunday. The activists had said they were trying to draw attention to Israel’s blockade of Gaza and would not resist if they were stopped.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andy David called the activists’ claim to be bringing aid to Gaza “ridiculous” and labeled the voyage “a politically motivated provocation.”

The passengers on the ship were questioned during the day on Tuesday at the Ashdod police station before being released on bail later in the evening.

A police spokeswoman said they were questioned on suspicion of attempting to illegally enter Gaza in violation of the Disengagement Law, which prohibits entry to the Strip without prior approval.

Security forces have also seized equipment on the ship and are in the process of ensuring that none of the items pose a threat to national security.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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