TEL AVIV (Aug. 24)
In the first serious incident of its kind, an Israeli tour boat and a Jordanian coast guard ship engaged in a serious clash last Friday night in the Gulf of Eilat.
The Israeli navy was forced to intervene in order to prevent blood from being spilled, the Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported Monday.
During the late evening hours of Aug. 21, the tour boat Eilat, carrying tourists on an outing, sailed in mid-gulf along the sea border between Israel and Jordan.
Suddenly, a Jordanian warship approached, with Jordanian soldiers posted on deck, aiming their weapons at the Israeli craft.
The Jordanian soldiers informed the Eilat skipper, Ruth Korotz, that the craft had penetrated Jordanian territory by a few hundred meters.
They demanded that the Israeli boat and its passengers accompany them to the Jordanian port of Aqaba.
The Israelis refused, claiming the Jordanians had crossed the border and were attempting to abduct Israeli citizens and passengers from Israeli territory.
The skipper alerted the Israeli navy, which immediately dispatched a Dabour boat.
The Jordanians did not concede and, while threatening with their weapons, they continued to demand that the Israeli craft accompany them. Only when they realized that the Dabour sailors intended to prevent the transfer of Israelis to Jordanian territory did the Jordanian ship retreat.
Sources in Eilat report that this is the first time the Jordanians have demonstrated resolve in the Gulf of Eilat and threatened citizens with weapons.
Until this incident, there was peaceful coexistence in the northern Gulf of Eilat, and both parties have permitted seafarers who crossed the border to return to their territory.