Early this morning, IDF Naval Forces intercepted six ships attempting to break the maritime closure of the Gaza Strip. This happened after numerous warnings from Israel and the Israeli Navy that were issued prior to the event. The Israeli Navy requested the ships to redirect toward Ashdod where they would be able to unload their aid supplies which would then be transferred over to the Gaza Strip after undergoing security inspections.
During the boarding of the ships, demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs. Additionally, one of the weapons used was grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose.
As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces first employed riot dispersal means, followed by live fire.
According to initial reports, these events resulted in over ten deaths among the demonstrators and numerous injuries. In addition, five naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers were seriously wounded and the remainder sustained moderate injuries. All of the injured parties, Israelis and foreigners, are currently being evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.
Reports from IDF forces at the scene indicate that some of the participants onboard the ships were planning to lynch the forces
The events are ongoing, and information will be updated as soon as possible. Israeli Naval commander, Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom is overseeing the events.
In the coming hours, the ships will be directed to the Ashdod port, while IDF naval forces perform security checks in order to identify the people on the ships and the cargo brought on board. The IDF Spokesman emphasizes that this event is currently unfolding and further details will be provided as soon as possible.
This IDF naval operation was carried out under orders from the political leadership to prevent the flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip and breaching the maritime closure.
The boarding of ships in the flotilla followed numerous warnings given to the organizers of the flotilla before leaving their ports as well as while sailing towards the Gaza Strip. In these warnings, it was made clear to the organizers that they could dock in the Ashdod Sea Port and unload the equipment they are carrying in order to deliver it to the Gaza Strip in an orderly manner, following the appropriate security checks. Upon expressing their unwillingness to cooperate and arrive at the port, it was decided upon to board the ships and lead them to Ashdod.
IDF naval personnel encountered severe violence, including use of weaponry prepared in advance in order to attack them, as well as having their weapons stolen by protesters and used against them. The forces operated in adherence with operational commands and took all necessary actions in order to avoid violence, but to no avail.