JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Navy intercepted the only ship from a pro-Palestinian flotilla that managed to set sail from Greece for the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The French-flagged Dignity al-Karama was boarded Tuesday afternoon by Israeli commandos five hours after the Navy first contacted the yacht 50 miles from the Gaza shore and was told that its destination was Gaza and that the passengers were not carrying weapons. The ship, which was aiming to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of the coastal strip, was towed to Israel’s Ashdod port.
The ship reportedly had declared a port in Egypt as its final destination in order to be able to leave Greek waters. At least seven other flotilla ships were detained and remain in Greek ports for safety violations.
The Dignity was carrying about 10 French and Greek activists, as well as three journalists and some crew members.
After boarding the ship, Israeli troops checked the condition of the passengers and offered them food and drink, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
The passengers were to be turned over to officials from the Israel Police, the Immigration and Population Authority and the Interior Ministry. They reportedly will be charged with entering Israel illegally and could be deported, which also would prohibit them from entering Israel for the next 10 years.