Free Gaza ship attacked by Israeli Navy, diverts to Lebanon but taking on water
According to organizers of the movement one Israeli gunboat rammed into the SS Dignity on the port bow side heavily damaging the ship at approximately 5am. The Israeli army is reporting that the Dignity was on a collision course and did not alter their route despite warnings that the Gaza Strip was a closed military zone and entry would not be allowed.
Israeli warships are also reported to have fired into the water in front of the Dignity in an effort to prevent the ship from continuing on its way to the Strip. The attack was filmed by journalists on board the boat and the crew and passengers will report more extensively on the event once they reach Lebanon.
Dignity passengers and crew reported that the boat was taking on water and is experiencing engine troubles.
According to the Free Gaza statement the “Dignity was clearly in international waters, 90 miles off the coast of Gaza,” when it was hit by the Israeli boat.
The boat is now 40 miles south of Lebanon where the government has given permission for the boat to land and has promised to assist the passengers if needed. The crew reported that Cyprus sea rescue contacted the boat to offer assistance.
Israeli sources deny firing on the humanitarian vessel and claim the navy offered to assist the passengers of the ship. When the offer was declined the navy “escorted the ship until it exited the state’s territorial waters,” according to one Israeli news agency.
Early reports said the ship was able to dock in Gaza and unload supplies, though this is no longer certain.
***Updated 11:52 Bethlehem time