Israel – An IDF spokesman said Monday morning that after careful deliberation and exhaustive diplomatic efforts, Israeli naval forces boarded and searched the flotilla Marianne av Göteborg, preventing the vessel from entering the the Gaza Strip.
According to the IDF, Israeli security forces boarded the vessel without incident after passengers made it clear after numerous diplomatic communiques that they would not acquiesce to the army’s demands to redirect away from the Gaza Strip. The vessel is currently being escorted to Ashdod and is expected to arrive in the next 12-24 hours.
Shortly after the mission concluded, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement congratulating the Navy and Israeli security forces for a job well done while condemning the flotilla for aiding Hamas and casting a blind-eye while heinous atrocities are taking place everyday throughout the region.
“I want to commend the soldiers and commanders of the Navy who effectively obstructed participants from entering Gaza’s shores illegally. This flotilla is nothing but a display of hypocrisy which only helps Hamas while ignoring other atrocities in the region,” according to Netanyahu’s statement.
“Israel is a democracy that protects itself in accordance with international law,” the prime minister went on to say, adding “We are not prepared to allow the smuggling of weapons to terrorist organizations in Gaza like in the past through the sea.”
Participants are protesting Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, as well as the restrictions it has placed on land crossings since they believe the Gaza borders should be open.
They have rejected Israel’s explanation that the closure is a necessary security measure given that Hamas, which rules Gaza, is a terrorist organization bent on destroying Israel.
Israeli officials reiterated on Sunday that Jerusalem has no intention to allow the boats to reach Gaza, and that the organizers are well aware both that there is a legal naval blockade of the area, and that all humanitarian aid into Gaza can pass through established channels.
“This is just a provocation,” one official said.
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister’s Office penned a letter to be given to the some 50 people on the boats, sarcastically welcoming them to Israel and saying that they apparently got lost.