Israel attacks the Estelle ship in international waters
October 20, 2012
“The Estelle is now under attack — I have just had a message from them by phone,” Victoria Strand, a Stockholm-based spokeswoman for the Ship to Gaza Sweden campaign told AFP.
The Ship to Gaza website has confirmed the attack, noting that it took place in international waters:
According to Dror Feiler, spokesperson for Ship to Gaza Sweden, the Estelle was attacked at 10.15 AM CET. Five or six military vessels surrounded the Estelle. Soldiers wearing masks are now trying to board the ship. The attack took place on international water: N31 26 E33 45
General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative party Dr Mustafa Barghouti denounced Israel’s interception of the Estelle.
“I strongly condemn this act of piracy by the Israeli army and navy who attacked peaceful activists carrying humanitarian aid,” Dr Barghouti stated. “The Estelle was surrounded by five Israeli ships before getting boarded by Israeli navy officers who arrested all 30 passengers and taking them to Ashdod for detention. Israel is violating international law by attacking the ship in international waters. This act of piracy should be condemned, as well as the continued siege on Gaza.”
The last update from the ship came an hour before the attack and described how the 30 passengers on board were all in high spirits, with 38 miles left to reach the besieged coastal strip and no sign of Israeli ships. The Estelle is carrying humanitarian needs such as wheelchairs, crutches, olive trees, and 300 footballs.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has previously stated that it will not allow the ship to approach Gaza.
21 October, 2012
The Associated Press reports: Israeli troops on Saturday commandeered a Gaza-bound ship that tried to break through Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-ruled seaside strip, the military said. European lawmakers and other pro-Palestinian activists aboard did not resist, and the Finnish-flagged vessel was diverted to an Israeli port.
The voyage by the ship, Estelle, marked the latest challenge to the air, land and sea embargo of Gaza that Israel imposed after the Islamic militant Hamas group seized the territory in 2007. Israeli officials say they need to enforce the blockade to prevent weapons smuggling.
Six Israeli naval vessels stopped the Estelle when it was about 30 nautical miles from Gaza, and masked soldiers boarder the ship and ordered it to sail to Israel’s Ashdod port, said Victoria Strand, a spokeswoman for the activists.
The Swedish-owned Estelle left Naples, Italy, on Oct. 7 with about 30 people from eight countries, including lawmakers from Norway, Sweden, Greece and Spain, as well as Israeli activists and a 79-year-old former legislator from Canada.
NEWS UPDATE #ESTELLE | -Israeli Estelle passengers report extreme violence. 2 Greek parliamentarians severely attacked. Blackhawk helicopters and hundreds of soldiers.
-The Israeli Estelle passengers were in the courtroom for 3 minutes. Once they started telling media about Israel army violence they were taken out, and brought back only when the judge came in. The judge decided to leave them in custody for an additional 48 hours
-Judge decided to leave Israeli #Estelle passengers in custody for an additional 48 hours
-The Israeli activists arrested on the Estelle are being charged with violating Disengagement Law, incitement, incitement to rebellion and aiding the enemy. International activists were taken to Hulon and there a reports coming through that Israel has already started to “deport”/”expel” them
~SPECIAL THANKS to Israeli Activist Tali Shapiro for providing these updates from Ashkelon Courthouse~
Paul Manly Writes On His Father’s Behalf
Dear members of the media
I am writing to follow up on my last email. My father, Jim Manly is in Israeli custody. The Estelle was attacked in International waters around 4:30AM EDT. My dad, a retired United Church minister and former Member of Parliament is 79 years old (he turns 80 in 9 days). While he is in good health for his age, he is not as resilient as he was in his youth and has medication he needs to take daily. I hope that the Israeli Defence Forces respect his human rights and legal rights and treat him with the respect and dignity he deserves. Press release below.
For Immediate Release
Shortly after 4:00AM EDT when the Estelle was in international waters approx. 17 Nautical Miles north of Arish, Egypt (as per the last coordinates we have) Israeli war ships surrounded it and the assault on the peaceful ship started.
Communications were lost at that time and all reports we got from the ship were choppy.
Among others, the following individuals were on board:
Former Member of Parliament Manly James, Canada
Member of Parliament Hagen Aksel, Norway
Member of Parliament Britton Sven, Sweden
Member of Parliament Kodelas Dimitios, Greece
Member of Parliament Sixto Ricardo, Spain
Member of Parliament Diamantopoulos Evangelos, Greece
Full list of individuals onboard: http://shiptogaza.se/en/news/sailors-onboard-estelle
See Jim Manly’s pre-recorded video message: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8egYBdf-Zo
As pre his request please contact the Prime Minister and your local member of parliament and ask them to insist that the Israeli government respect the human rights and legal rights of those aboard the Estelle.
– Stephen Harper (Prime Minister of Canada)
– John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs)
THESE ARE THE SAILORS ON BOARD ESTELLE:
Member of Parliament Hagen Aksel Norway 10/04/1953
Member of Parliament Britton Sven Sweden 14/06/1938
Member of Parliament Kodelas Dimitios Greece 02/01/1979
Member of Parliament Sixto Ricardo Spain 07/01/1967
Member of Parliament Diamantopoulos Evangelos Greece 20/04/1980
Former Member of Parliament Manly James Canada 29/10/1932
Opperdoes Joel Arvid Alexander Sweden 1983-06-20
Andreasson Charles Bertil Sweden 1965-03-10
Särner Daniel Karl-Erik Sweden 1985-12-16
Uddebrant Johan Lars OS Sweden 1981-06-28
Widell Anders Nils Olof Sweden 1986-07-11
Reksten Herman Elias Norway 1989-10-06
Elhanan Elazar Israel 1977-04-01
Sjøstrøm Nils Johan Norway 1963-11-10
Koivisto Velimati Finland 1968-03-01
Hammervold Jan Petter Norway 1944-27-03
Feiler Dror Sweden 1951-31-08
Svenberg Kristian Sweden 02-07-1947
Boethius Maria-Pia Sweden 09/04/1947
Mor Reut Israel 09/08/1982
Jämiä Mika Finland 1959-09-06
Arau Crusellas Laura Spain 02/05/1980
Ramazzotti Stockel Marco Italy 17-09-1947
Shapira Yonathan Israel 12-02-1972
Tiktopoulos Mikhalis Greece 24/12/1946
Zabale Gouzalet BegoÒa Spain 09/01/1950
Stamellos Loukas Greece 22/06/1979
Piassas Evangelos Greece 02/04/1947
Gardell Mattias Sweden 10/08/1959
Vinthagen Stellan Sweden 13/10/1964
Why Is Jim Manly Sailing To Challenge Gaza Blockade?
By Eva Manly
21 October, 2012
Why did Jim accept the invitation to be the Canadian on board the Estelle, the Freedom Flotilla boat sailing for Gaza to break the blockade?
Our decision was a joint one, a result of 53 years of working together as a team and supporting each other in both individual and joint pursuits. I have always been attracted to Jim’s sense of humour, his ability to think “outside the box” and the fact he did not fit my stereotype of clergy! After all these years we still make each other laugh and are still able to surprise each other.
Another thing drew me to Jim: he has the courage to follow his convictions and the guts to act on them – even when these actions are unpopular. He is also one of the least confrontational people I know.
Jim and I have worked together on many human rights issues. We are grateful to the Haisla people of Kitamaat, with whom we spent the first four years of our married life and whose friendships and influence we still cherish, for opening our eyes to the issues facing First Nations people and other indigenous peoples. This led indirectly to our involvement with other human rights struggles: Mexican American farm workers, refugees from the coup in Chile, the people of Nicaragua and El Salvador, the Maya of Guatemala, and refugees from Colombia and Nigeria among other places. It also led to our involvement in Church Sanctuary for refugees and accompaniment of people facing death threats. Through all this we avoided the issue of Palestine/Israel, accepting the line that “it is too complex”, too divisive and likely to alienate friends.
So, people ask, when and how did that change? We read Drinking the Sea at Gaza by Amira Haas, the Israeli journalist who lived in Gaza and reported for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. We heard Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and for the first time we began to understand the true nature of the “Separation Wall”, known among Palestinians as the “Annexation Wall”. We learned all we could on the issue (much of it written by Jewish Israelis) and helped form Mid-Islanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, and more recently in the United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel. We participated in a Pilgrimage of Solidarity, visiting Israelis and Palestinians who work together for a just and peaceful future. They inspire us to work with them.
Jim has always avoided the limelight (strange for someone who went into politics). It was only his strong engagement with this issue that led him to agree to sail. He is on the Estelle to bring attention to the suffering of the Palestinians of Gaza.
He is there out of a commitment to human rights and social justice. He hopes to bring awareness to Canadians about what is being done to the Palestinians in the name of Israeli security.
He is there in the hope that his actions may bring Canadian MPs from all parties, but especially the NDP and particularly the younger generation of NDP MPs who were elected with the hope for change, to break the walls of silence and speak out.
If there was room for another Canadian I would be there with Jim. There is no other place I would rather be now. May he come home safe.
Eva Manly of Nanaimo B.C. is married to retired NDP MP and United Church minister Jim Manly who is sailing to challenge the Gaza blockade. For updates please see http://www.gazaark.org/category/follow-jim-manly-on-the-estelle/