As you probably know by now, the latest fauxtilla finally and limply came to an end yesterday with one boat carrying 16 people attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. After the Israeli Navy intercepted the so-called ‘yacht’, the Navy escorted the boat to Ashdod where we live.
I decided that we would go up to Givat Yonah (the place where according to legend the whale spit Jonah out onto land), a high promontory overlooking the port of Ashdod, to watch the ‘yacht’ being brought in. As it turned out, we were not alone.
The media had been denied entrance into the port–which also houses an Israeli Naval base. As we drove into the parking lot, we immediately saw at least 10 satellite trucks pulled up next to observation point with at least a hundred media types from every conceivable organization: CNN, Al-Jazeera English, Al-Jazeera, Israeli channels 1, 2, and 10, the Israeli Arab channel, the R and R Russian channel, and many others.
We made ourselves right at home with my little Canon camera and binoculars in between Israel Channel 2 and Al-Jazeera English.
Also, there were at least 30 members of the IDF–mostly naval personnel walking around along with another 10 members of the Ashdod city police force. Everyone was waiting for the arrival of the ship.
Finally after about 25 minutes, (Captain Barak of the IDF kept us informed as to when the boat would arrive), the tiny procession of boats sailed passed us. It was a hilarious media scene with everyone rushing to their cameras; however, the ‘yacht’ was so tiny that no one could identify for certain that it was the boat (despite Barak’s assurances).
The Al-Jazeera folks wanted to borrow our binoculars to confirm that it was indeed the Dignite. Their cameraman became excitedly animated, and said it was the boat because he had seen what it looked like on Israel’s Ynet News website. I found all of this very interesting because Al-Jazeera had a broadcasting team on the Dignite itself, and the people beside us were in constant contact with their studio which was in constant contact with the Dignite.
So look back at the picture at the head of the blog: the two large boats are cargo boats waiting to offload their cargo at the port. There are two tiny boats in front of the boat to the left. The tiny boat to the right is the Israeli naval vessel; the incredibly tiny boat following it to the left is the Dignite al Karama.
So we took pictures and then waited for the press briefing which came about 30 minutes later from Brigadier-General Rani Ben Yehuda of the IDF.
I’ve posted the briefing directly below–which I posted on youtube. Just click on the link; you have to watch it for about a minute before he describes what took place when the commandos took over the ‘yacht’.
Link to youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvivRMeEhMc
In sum, as Hamas continues its arms buildup, it is critically necessary for Israel to maintain the blockade of Gaza (by the way, the Dignite had neither weapons nor ‘humanitarian’ supplies). Nevertheless, when you think about all the time and effort that Israel had to expend to catch this one little fish, and all the media attention given to this silly little boat, it really gives you pause . . .