February 5th, 2009
Cargo Boat Attempting Illegal Entry to Gazan Coastal Waters Intercepted
This morning, Thursday, February 5, 2009, an Israel Navy force intercepted, boarded, and took control of the cargo boat named Tali, which was bearing the flag of Togo and attempted to illegally enter the Gaza Strip.
The cargo boat sailed from the Tripoli port in Lebanon a few days ago, docked in Cyprus then continued its journey to the Gaza Strip. While at sea, the cargo boat was contacted by Israel, in order to clarify that it would not be permitted to enter Gazan coastal waters because of security risks in the area and the existing naval blockade.
Starting yesterday evening (February 4), the Israel Navy was in direct contact with the boat and continued to clarify that the ship would not be permitted to enter the Gaza Strip’s coastal waters. The boat crew stated their intentions of changing their destination to the port in El-Arish, Egypt.
During today’s morning hours, the cargo ship changed its bearing and began heading toward the Gaza Strip, contrary to the claims made by the boat crew yesterday evening.
Disregarding all warnings, the cargo boat entered Gazan coastal waters. The actions of the boat crew raised suspicion, as it raised security concerns, since the boat could be used for smuggling banned equipment (weaponry, etc.) in or out of the Gaza Strip.
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 Ashdod, Israel. No gunshots were fired on board during the process. The boat crew will be taken for questioning by the Israeli Police and any humanitarian goods found on the boat will be transferred to the Gaza Strip.
The IDF Spokesperson Unit emphasizes that any organization or country that wishes to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip can do so via the established crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip with prior coordination.