Israeli navy intercepts lone Flotilla entry (updated)
When Palestinian activists first began planning for their latest PR stunt of running the blockade into Gaza, they expected a half dozen ships to participate in the Flotilla, including the American entry, The Audacity of Hope.
After some deft diplomacy and some providential sabotage, only one ship was left to carry on. And now, the Israelis have intercepted it, taken control, and brought it to Ashdod port.
The Israel Navy on Tuesday intercepted the last remaining member of a flotilla of boats which had intended to reach the Gaza Strip, after it refused to obey an Israeli demand to change course as it sailed for a Gaza port.
Elite troops from Israel's Shayetet 13 naval commando unit boarded the French yacht Dignite-Al Karame minutes after Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz issued the order to intercept. The commandos quickly took control of the vessel, with no resistance from those aboard.
The Israel Navy began trailing the Karame while it was some 50 miles from Gaza. The boat was asked to state its final destination and disclose if there were any weapons onboard. One of the group of Greek activists on the ship told the Navy that there were no weapons, and that they were heading to Gaza port.
Following the rapid takeover, the vessel was directed to Ashdod port. There the passengers were to be taken into custody and dealt with by immigration authorities.
Smoothly executed, professionally carried out with no injuries and no loss of life. It won't stop other flotillas from being attempted but it makes chances of their success even more remote.
Update from JanSuzanne Krasner:
Only silence came from the passengers of the Dignity-Al-Karama, the last remaining vessel of the 'Freedom To Gaza' flotilla, as Israel's Shayetet 13 naval commando unit repeatedly requested them to change course. The order to intercept was issued and, with no resistance from the passengers, the commandos quickly took control of the ship.
Here is the 32 second YouTube video of the Navy intercepting the Dignity.
The Israeli Navy began following the Dignity in international waters about 50 miles outside of Gaza. After the IDF confirmed that the Navy had contacted the vessel and warned them that they were approaching a blockaded area and they would be intercepted, one of the passengers told the Navy that there were no weapons aboard and that they were, in fact, heading for the Gaza Port. The Dignity was then intercepted and quickly taken over with none of the passengers injured.
The passengers were then offered food and beverage and the vessel was then escorted to the southern Israeli port at Ashdod where the passengers were taken into custody to deal with the immigration authorities.