Ship at port in Cyprus
Photo: AFP

Navy orders aid boat to Gaza to retreat

International Solidarity Movement ship carrying aid, journalists, doctors making way to Gaza from Cyprus collides with Israeli naval vessel, is ordered to turn back. Free Gaza Movement says Israel surrounded ship, fired at it

An incident occurred Tuesday morning between an Israeli Navy vessel and a foreign aid boat making its way form Cyprus to the Gaza Strip.


The foreign ship was notified that it was crossing into a closed military zone and ordered to retreat, but the captain did not stop and collided with the Israeli missile ship. No one was injured in the incident.


Early Tuesday morning navy ships were called to stop a ship belonging to the International Solidarity Movement, which is recognized in Israel as a pro-Palestinian organization.


The Israelis contacted the ship's captain through the radio and ordered the ship to turn back.


According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the captain of the aid boat carrying several journalists attempted to evade one of the Israeli missile ships. The Israeli ship stopped, but a collision could not be avoided.


Immediately after the incident the aid ship turned back. The Israeli naval ship offered to assist the passengers of the aid ship, who declined the offer. Israel then escorted the damaged ship until it exited the State's territorial waters.


Aid Ship that was sent back from Gaza (photo AFP)


Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor said, "While it was just another one of the kind of ships that we have already seen, the situation in Gaza is different now. The area was declared a closed military zone.


"The fact that the ship was carrying journalists, including a CNN crew that has already broadcasted live three times, proves that this was a provocation on the part of the media."


The ship's passengers gave a different version of the story. Angela Goldfried of the Free Gaza Movement, who was in contact with passengers of the boat told Ynet, "Our ship was circled by 11 navy ships that fired at it and collided with it in international waters.


"We contacted the navy. They said the ship violated the Israeli border, but they cannot claim it's the Israeli border when it's not."


According to Goldfried, the passengers on board the ship included Al-Jazeera and CNN journalists, a former US congresswoman, two doctors and a Cypriot parliament member, who is also a doctor.


"The problem is that the navy ordered them to turn back, but they don't have enough fuel to return to Cyprus and they refused the navy's escort. One of the big problems in Gaza is that doctors work 24 hours a day. That's why we tried to send as many doctors as possible over there," Goldfried said.


Yael Levi contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 12.30.08, 09:15
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