The Dignite al-Karame sailing into Ashdod, trailed by three Israel naval vessels.(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)
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How The Gaza Ship Was Diverted

And why, contra Hamas, it was no ‘war crime’

Marc Tracy
July 19, 2011
The Dignite al-Karame sailing into Ashdod, trailed by three Israel naval vessels.(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

A few more details on the Israeli navy’s successful interception of the Dignite al-Karama, the lone vessel from the thwarted flotilla that managed to make its way close enough to Gaza to be confronted. This was a French yacht bearing 16 passengers and crew, which set out from the French island of Corsica, anchored in international waters, initially reported that it was headed for Alexandria, Egypt—a calculated lie that was nonetheless, the ship says, perfectly legal—and then headed for Gaza. It was trailed by IDF ships, which made radio contact, confirmed that it bore no cargo and that its destination was Gaza, and ordered it to turn away. “After dialogue reached a dead end,” said the IDF’s chief spokesperson, “naval commandos boarded the yacht and took control of it without facing resistance.” These commandos were members of the elite Shayetet 13 group. The Dignite al-Karama was diverted to Ashdod, on the Israeli coast; the passengers will be questioned and then turned over to immigration authorities.

Hamas quickly accused Israel of “piracy, a war crime and a violation of the principles of human rights.” Actually, though, even many opponents of Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza concede that it is arguably legal, and certainly no war crime. In a sense, everyone got what they wanted today: Those aboard the yacht—whose lack of cargo serves to prove further that their mission was purely symbolic—forced Israel to enforce its blockade, which, if you believe the blockade is unjust, means Israel just drew attention to its injustice; Israel upheld its policy; and nobody, kennahurra, was the worse for wear afterward. On all sides, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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