Ashdod port this afternoon
Photo: Avi Rokach
Naval vessel approaches ship
Photo: AP
Lebanese aid boat docks in Ashdod
Lebanese ship purportedly transporting aid to Gaza found to be carrying only 150 bottles of water, several dozen kilograms of supplies despite capacity for many thousands of kilos. Greek Archbishop Hilarion Capucci among passengers taken for questioning

After the drama at high seas, the ship that left Lebanon to deliver aid to Gaza docked at Ashdod port on Thursday afternoon.


A naval officer who was took part in the operation to prevent the ship from breaking the blockade imposed

on Hamas-controlled Gaza said that the ship ignored repeated warnings – which included the discharging of weapons in the air. The operation culminated with IDF troops boarding the ship and naval vessels escorting it to Ashdod.


No weapons were found on board the ship in a sweep conducted by naval officers. They said only several dozen kilograms of humanitarian aid were found on board, including 150 water bottles, provisions and medical equipment. The volume of the cargo was surprising as the ship has the capacity of transporting several thousand tons. The cargo is expected to be handed over to aid agencies, to be taken into Gaza by land.


The crew and passengers, 18 in total, were taken for questioning by the police. Among them is known anti-Israel Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, who in 1974 was arrested while trying to smuggle arms to terrorists in Jerusalem, and two journalists working for the Al-Jazeera news network.

'No shots fired'


The military said that a naval patrol spoke by radio to the Tali, told its skipper that it would not be allowed to enter Gaza and the two sides agreed that the vessel would instead sail to the Egyptian port of El-Arish.


But on Thursday morning, the ship tried to double back and slip past the navy, Israel said, raising concerns that it might be trying to smuggle arms into Gaza.


It was placed in a remote location in the Ashdod port, usually reserved for security-related cargo.


"As a result of the actions taken by the boat crew, an Israel Navy force intercepted, boarded, and took control of the cargo boat, directing it toward (the port) of Ashdod, Israel," the statement said. "No gunshots were fired on board during the boarding and capturing of the cargo boat."


פרסום ראשון: 02.05.09, 19:05
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