Navy takes suspicious Hamas vessel to Ashdod port

IDF Spokesperson's Unit said Palestinian fishing boat had swerved from Gazan territorial waters.

[illustrative photo] Ship at sea 311 (R) (photo credit: Andreas Manolis / Reuters)
[illustrative photo] Ship at sea 311 (R)
(photo credit: Andreas Manolis / Reuters)
The Navy escorted a suspicious Palestinian sea vessel to a naval port in Ashdod on Sunday after the boat failed to heed orders to return to its allocated waters.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said the Palestinian fishing boat from Gaza had swerved from Gazan territorial waters, and that a Navy boat first asked it to turn back.
After the request was ignored, shots were fired at the Palestinian boat's engine, striking it. No injuries were reported.
The vessel was towed to Ashdod and its occupants were questioned by security services.
The altercation comes only a week after the Israeli Navy released the HS Beethoven cargo ship which commandos had boarded in search of arms it suspected were being smuggled from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip. Commandos from the Navy’s Flotilla 13 – better known as the Shayetet – boarded the ship as it was sailing from Beirut to Alexandria, Egypt.
Israel’s concern was that the Beethoven was carrying weapons for either Hamas or Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Last March, the navy intercepted a cargo ship called Victoria that was carrying some 50 tons of weaponry and was on its way to Egypt. It was also flying a Liberian flag and was headed to Alexandria.
Efforts to stop Iranian arms from being smuggled to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah in Lebanon are nonstop and include operations not just in the Mediterranean but also in the Red Sea.
Other western naval forces frequently assist Israel in patrolling the seas and in questioning suspicious vessels.
Yaakov Katz and JPOST.COM STAFF contributed to this story.