Flaunting the warning that Israel would repel any attempt to cut through its sea blockade of the Gaza Strip, the French ship “Dignity al-Karama” nevertheless approached the Strip, only to be stopped by Israeli defense forces.
Quiet, Orderly Takeover
The takeover of the ship was said to be peaceful and without incident. No harm was caused to activists aboard the boat, or to any property.
“The takeover was orderly and done with restraint,”
the navy’s deputy commander, Brig. Gen. Rani Ben-Yehudah explained to reporters at the Israeli port of Ashdod.
“Nobody was hurt and the ship wasn’t damaged.”
Snacks and Drinks Served
Soldiers served the activists on board water and snacks after they took over the boat about 40 miles off the coast of Gaza.
The Dignity al-Karama was the sole boat left of a larger flotilla that was supposed to leave from Greece last month but was prevented from doing so by Greek authorities.
Will Be Deported
The foreign protestors on board will be questioned by Israeli authorities and then deported to “to their countries of origin as soon as possible,” said the Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.
The activists are from several countries, including Sweden, Canada, France and Greece. There were also three journalists along, one of them Israeli, as well as crew members.
Blockade on Hamas
Israel placed a blockade on Gaza since the takeover of the government there by the Iranian backed terrorist organization Hamas. Israel refutes the activists’ claim that the takeover of their ship is akin to piracy on the high seas, while Israel asserts its right to defend itself against the infiltration of weapons and materials into Gaza which could be used against it. Many analysts schooled in international law support Israel’s contention that it has a right to defend itself against its enemies.
Collective Punishment or Defense?
Activists assert that Israel is preventing much needed building materials from reaching Gaza, thus collectively punishing the 1.6 million residents for the sins of the few Hamas rulers, while Israel says that metal, glass, cement and other materials can be used for military purposes. In many cases Israel has approved the shipment of these materials for specific construction projects in coordination with the international community.
Shopping Mall Built
Underscoring this fact is the opening of a three-story, $4 million mall, with Gaza’s second escalator and only movie theater. During the 1980s militants incinerated all the movie houses in Gaza. The mall was built, despite the embargo, and under the supervision of Hamas, in the posh neighborhood of Rimal, and opened for business on Tuesday.