Turkish captain of Gaza-bound ship ‘surprised’ by Israeli commandos

Turkish captain of Gaza-bound ship ‘surprised’ by Israeli commandos

Turkish captain of Gaza-bound ship ‘surprised’ by Israeli commandos

A handout picture released by the Israeli Army shows a missile on an intercepted ship in the Red Sea on March 5 carrying what Israeli military says was Iranian 'advanced weaponry' bound for Palestinian militants in Gaza. AFP photo / Israeli army

A Turk was captaining a cargo ship intercepted in the Mediterranean with what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said were Iranian-supplied weapons intended for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on March 5, according to local media.

According to the details of the takeover released by the Israeli army on March 6 and published by daily Yedioth Ahronoth on March 7, the Turkish captain was surprised to receive a call on the ship’s radio from Israeli Navy commandos, who asked him to stop the boat and said they intended to board the ship.

“It took him a few minutes to respond, but when he stood on the bridge and saw two missile boats standing by with more boats filled with commandos ready to go, he gave us permission to board,” the Israeli official said.

“We quickly made it clear to him that we were not pirates and that we belonged to the Israeli Defense Force and wanted to search his ship,” he said.

“We started searching through some of the containers that were crowded in the belly of the ship, which forced us to open the containers from the side by sawing through them. When we moved the bags of cement away and opened the boxes that contained the rockets, we brought the captain down there and only then did he realize that he was fooled,” the official continued. “At this point he described the ship’s entire course so far in Turkish and in English and realized that he was a victim of an Iranian conspiracy.”

The official said the captain and his crew did not protest the Navy’s search, “because they saw the kind of military might that was around them, among other reasons.”

“At the same time, we conducted a maneuver in the area, where many trading boats pass, in order to make it clear that we did not intend to attack them as well,” he added.