By Jim Kouri
An Israeli security force intercepted a Gaza-bound ship carrying pro-Palestinian activists from several countries, a National Police source told the Law Enforcement Examiner on Saturday.
The Israeli source said the operation to intercept the Estelle, a Finnish-flagged ship, was a lawful action as a result of an Israeli government decision to prevent suspicious vessels from reaching Gaza.
The goal of the international coalition on the ship was to challenge an Israeli blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, an area controlled by terrorist group Hamas and base for a number of other radical Islamist groups including the Egyptian-based Salafists.
The coalition from the Free Gaza Movement claimed they are carrying humanitarian assistance and medical supplies, as well as activists from Europe and Canada.
The purpose of the blockade is to prevent the delivery of firearms, rockets, missiles, explosives and other contraband from being delivered into the hands of terrorist groups in Gaza. This past week rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory continued. Seven rocket hits were identified by Israeli Defense Force officials, according to the Meir Amit Information Center in Tel Aviv.
According the Law Enforcement Examiner Israeli source, this latest interception by Israeli commandos peaceful and uneventful. The Israeli security force boarded the Estelle after its crew refused to turn around and leave the waters of Gaza.
The Estelle set sail from Sweden three months ago, making stops in several European ports to pick up the activists and supplies earmarked for Hamas, the de facto government of Gaza.
One week prior to the ship’s arrival near the Israeli blockade, Israel’s government notified Finnish officials that the boat would be prevented from landing in Gaza.
In 2008, several international ferries entered Gaza’s fishing harbor, a year after Israel imposed a strict ground and naval blockade in Gaza to isolate Hamas.
Then Israel’s after a major military Winter offensive in 2009, Israeli officials ordered a complete ban on all foreign ships from Gaza’s waters.
A year later, Israeli commandos intercepted a Turkish flotilla bound for Gaza and killed nine Pro-Palestinian Turks causing a United Nations backlash against the Jewish State.
“The Navy’s boarding was carried out in accordance with international law, as the ship attempted to break the maritime security blockade of the Gaza Strip,” said a statement given to the Law Enforcement Examiner by the Israeli police source.
“The boarding took place only after the Navy had made multiple attempts to dissuade the ship’s passengers from sailing to the Gaza Strip — both via direct contact and through diplomatic channels — but to no avail,” it added. “Despite numerous calls to the passengers onboard, they remained unwilling to cooperate with Israeli authorities,” the statement claimed.