IDF naval fighters early on Monday morning boarded the Swedish ship Marianne that was taking part in the latest flotilla trying to violate Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.
The troops took control of the ship and will take it to the Ashdod Port where its contents will be inspected. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said the takeover process was short and there were no injuries on either side.
“According to the decision of the political echelon, and after exhausting all diplomatic channels to prevent the Marianne vessel from reaching the coast of the Gaza Strip and violating the naval blockade, navy fighters took over the vessel a short time ago before its arrival in Gaza,” the statement said.
“The action was taken after a large number of requests to the passengers on the vessel. Once the passengers clarified that they would not cooperate and proceed to the Ashdod Port, it was decided to take over the vessel and sail it to the Ashdod port.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the operation to take over the vessel and said, "I want to commend the soldiers and commanders of the navy for their determined and effective implementation in detaining the passengers who tried to enter Gaza's shores illegally.”
“This flotilla is nothing but a display of hypocrisy and lies which only helps Hamas while ignoring the atrocities in the region. Denial of entry by sea is carried out in accordance with international law and has received support from a committee of the UN Secretary General,” he continued.
“Israel is a democracy that protects itself in accordance with international law,” said Netanyahu, who stressed, “We are not prepared to allow the smuggling of weapons to terrorist organizations in Gaza like in the past through the sea. Just a year ago we foiled an attempt to smuggle hundreds of weapons from the sea intended to harm Israeli citizens.”
He further stressed that there is “no closure on Gaza. Israel is assisting with the transfer of goods and humanitarian supplies into Gaza – about 800 trucks a day, which in the last year have brought in more than 1.6 million tons of goods.”
“In addition, Israel is helping hundreds of humanitarian projects through international organizations, including the establishment of clinics and hospitals,” said the Prime Minister.
“Israel is a peace-loving state which operates under international law to allow safe life for its residents and their children to grow up in peace and quiet," he concluded.
The so-called “Freedom Flotilla 3”, which set sail from Crete on Friday, has been backed by the European Campaign to Break the Siege on Gaza. Members of the European Parliament, journalists, athletes, artists, as well as radical leftist Israelis will be on board.
Arutz Sheva has exclusively revealed that the flotilla is indirectly funded by the French government via a pro-Palestinian NGO.
The flotilla was the latest in a series of attempts by activists to break the naval blockade on Gaza, imposed by Israel after Hamas violently took control of Gaza from rival Fatah in 2006.
The most famous of the flotillas was the 2010 one involving the Turkish Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be providing "humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza."
The ship repeatedly defied orders to turn around and dock at the Ashdod port and ignored repeated warnings to change course, forcing IDF troops to board the vessel – only to be attacked by Islamist extremists on board wielding knives and metal bars. The wounded soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of ten of Islamists on board.
After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid – in fact, no aid supplies at all – indicating how the true goal of the provocative move was to open Gaza to free naval access, which it has consistently used to smuggle in weapons to be targeted against Israel.