Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FASHION

Paris, Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015.

Read more

REPORTERS

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

2014-07-11 21:47 AFRICA NEWS

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Politics: parties under pressure

Read more

FOCUS

In Burma, the rise of radical Buddhism

Read more

  • UN Security Council calls for Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire

    Read more

  • The third-place playoff: the World Cup game no one wants to play

    Read more

  • Afghan presidential candidates agree to full vote audit, Kerry says

    Read more

  • France’s Kadri wins eighth stage at Tour de France

    Read more

  • Legal challenge to French mayor’s ban of Muslim hijab on beach

    Read more

  • Last of the Ramones, Tommy Ramone, dies aged 62

    Read more

  • Video: Outrage in wake of deadly Casablanca buildings collapse

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces ‘executed prisoners in reprisal’ for ISIS killings

    Read more

  • Ukraine promises retaliation after rebel assault

    Read more

  • Putin revives old Cuban flame and eyes Latin American minerals

    Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Cleveland's NBA fans hail 'return of king' LeBron James

    Read more

  • Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

    Read more

  • Magnitude 6.8 quake, small tsunami hit east Japan

    Read more

  • Suspect in Brussels Jewish Museum shooting drops extradition appeal

    Read more

Middle east

Israel seizes aid ship bound for Gaza

©

Video by Marie BOLINCHES , Shona BHATTACHARYYA , Angela YEOH

Latest update : 2009-02-06

A Gaza-bound ship carrying aid was stopped by the Israeli navy on Thursday and ordered to return to Lebanon, from where it reportedly set off. Journalists on board said shots were fired, but the Israeli military denied the reports.

REUTERS - The Israeli navy boarded a freighter trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip on Thursday and escorted it into the port of Ashdod, Israeli officials said.

It was the first apparent attempt by a foreign ship carrying aid to reach the Palestinian enclave since Israel ended its 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip two weeks ago.


No weapons were found aboard the Tali, a cargo vessel flying the flag of the West African state of Togo, Israel radio said. It said those aboard would be returned by land to Lebanon, where the ship sailed from.

Israeli military sources said those aboard included a veteran Palestinian rights campaigner, Syrian-born Archbishop Hilarion Capucci of the Melkite Church of the Eastern Rite.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak confirmed that "the navy boarded the vessel, stopped it" and ordered it to Ashdod.

Doha-based Al-Jazeera television quoted a correspondent aboard the vessel as saying the Israeli navy had fired shots then boarded the Tali and beaten passengers and crew.

"They are opening fire towards the vessel ... there are Israeli soldiers who have actually boarded the vessel," said Salam Khoder. "Three of them are pointing their weapons at us ... They are beating those on the vessel, they are beating and kicking us."

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora condemned the action.

"Those who commit massacres against innocent civilians in Lebanon and Gaza will not stop themselves from assaulting, in front of the world, a ship carrying humanitarian supplies," he said. "I express my utmost condemnation for this blatant attack."

An Israeli army spokesman said no gunfire was used in taking control of the vessel and most of the 20 passengers aboard were from media organisations.


Smuggling charges


Archbishop Capucci, who calls himself a "Palestinian in spirit," was arrested in 1974 in Israel on charges of smuggling weapons from Lebanon to Arab guerrillas. He left prison three years later on the direct intervention of the late Pope Paul VI.

The Vatican promised Israel that he would stay out of the Middle East and transferred him to South America for a while. Capucci has extensive contacts with Arabs and Muslims. He was allowed to visit American hostages held in Tehran in 1979.

The Tali left Lebanon and docked in Cyprus before sailing for Gaza. The captain was told repeatedly that he would not be allowed to take it into Gaza waters, the army spokesman said.

Confronted on Wednesday by Israeli navy vessels, the ship's captain said he was changing course for the Egyptian port of El Arish on the Mediterranean coast, 45 km (30 miles) west of the Gaza-Egypt border.

An Egyptian official said the ship requested permission to dock and was "told to stop in the waiting area". But on Thursday, the ship started heading towards Gaza, Israel said.

"It entered Gaza territorial waters in a suspicious way," said the army spokesman. "They were not acting in accordance with regular naval procedures which raised suspicion they may be smuggling something or endangering Israeli security."

Al-Jazeera said the ship, Lebanese Brotherhood, was carrying humanitarian aid from Lebanese and Arab charities destined for those made homeless by Israel's devastating offensive.

The shipment was organised by the Palestinian National Committee Against the Siege in cooperation with the U.S.-based Free Gaza Movement.

There have been several attempts to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip over the past months by sympathizers of Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians. Some boats with peace activists were allowed to dock, others were warned off.

Israel maintains tight control of Gaza's access to the outside world, insisting it will not permit cash, steel or any other materials that could be used by Hamas Islamists in control of the Gaza Strip to make weapons for use against Israelis.

Date created : 2009-02-05

Comments

COMMENT(S)