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Israeli Soldiers Board Aid Ship


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CHIP CUMMINS in Jerusalem and JOSHUA MITNICK in Tel Aviv

JERUSALEM—Israeli soldiers boarded a cargo ship carrying pro-Palestinian activists just after noon Saturday, with the military saying there was no violence, and the ship was taken under Israeli control to Israel's port of Ashdod.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli Defense Force said the protesters resisted nonviolently, but the IDF "took over the ship."

"The use of force was unnecessary and no shots were fired," the IDF said in a statement later in the day. The IDF released photos and aerial video footage of the boarding, conducted by commandos in small boats that came alongside the 225-foot cargo ship, the Rachel Corrie.

In the video clip, the crew and passengers appear to assemble on the ship's top deck and sit down. Israeli soldiers then board the ship from a small boat and speak to a passenger.

Israel said late Saturday that the ship had docked at Ashdod and its eight crew and 11 passengers would be "transferred to the custody of the appropriate authorities." The Rachel Corrie is owned by the pro-Palestinian Free Gaza Movement, based in Cyprus. The group also helped organize a flotilla earlier in the week that was seized by Israel, triggering an international furor.

The ship's cargo, which organizers said included medical aid, toys and cement, will be inspected in Ashdod, the military said. "Humanitarian aid cargo will be transferred to the Gaza Strip for the use by the Gazan civilian population," the IDF said.....(Snip)
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