Israel Arrests Stowaway Suspected of Arson on Ship en Route From Turkey

Forces storm cargo ship off northern coast, after clandestine passenger discovered

An aerial view of Haifa Port, Israel, June 9, 2019.
Rami Shllush

The Israeli Navy stormed a cargo ship on Sunday that was making its way from Turkey to Israel's northern Haifa Port, arresting a man who is supected of attempting to set the vessel ablaze.

Forces were called to the scene after the clandestine passenger was discovered on board, and the navy said the situation was under control.

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At first, the Navy dispatched drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the area to gather information, while a team from the Shayetet 13 elite naval commando unit made its way to the scene and began searching the ship.  

The suspect, a Turkish national, was apprehended near one of the containers on board. The suspect's identity hasn't been made public, and he was taken into police custody.

It remains unclear whether the suspect has attempted to enter Israel by sea in the past.

The MSC Canberra is seen from Haifa Port, Israel, June 9, 2019.
Rami Shllush

The port's administration said an initial alert of the passenger, who began rampaging and breaking items on board, came at around 3 A.M., when the ship was 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) off Israel's northern coast. 

The crew, which included Russian and Turkish staffers, followed emergency protocols and barricaded itself aboard the command bridge.

According to Vesselfinder.com, the MSC Canberra container ship, which sails under a Panamanian flag, left Turkey's Mersin Port on Friday. It was scheduled to enter the port on Monday.

No casualties have been reported, and the extent of damage caused to the vessel remains unclear.

The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson's Unit said that its forces were notified overnight "by a foreign cargo ship docked off the country's northern coast of fire that was started on board by unidentified persons."

It added forces are "monitoring and handling the incident" together with the Israel Police and in coordination with the vessel's staff.