Canadian in custody as Israeli navy seizes pro-Palestinian activist boat

By Diaa Hadid, Associated Press
Saturday, October 20, 2012

 

A pro-Palestinian ship named Estelle is escorted to Ashdod port in southern Israel after it was seized by Israeli navy October 20, 2012. The Israeli navy seized an international pro-Palestinian activist ship on the Mediterranean high seas on Saturday to prevent it breaching Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, a military spokeswoman said. The Estelle was carrying 30 activists from Europe, Canada and Israel, humanitarian cargo such as cement and goodwill items such as children's books, a mission spokesman said on Saturday.
A pro-Palestinian ship named Estelle is escorted to Ashdod port in southern Israel after it was seized by Israeli navy October 20, 2012. The Israeli navy seized an international pro-Palestinian activist ship on the Mediterranean high seas on Saturday to prevent it breaching Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, a military spokeswoman said. The Estelle was carrying 30 activists from Europe, Canada and Israel, humanitarian cargo such as cement and goodwill items such as children’s books, a mission spokesman said on Saturday. Photographed by: Amir Cohen, Reuters

JERUSALEM — Israeli troops commandeered a Gaza-bound ship on Saturday as the vessel tried to break through Israel’s blockade of the seaside strip ruled by the Islamic militant Hamas group.

European lawmakers and other pro-Palestinian activists aboard — including one former Canadian MP — did not resist, and the Finnish-flagged vessel was perted to an Israeli port.

The trip by the ship, Estelle, marked the latest challenge to the air, land and sea embargo of Gaza that Israel imposed after Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

Israeli officials say they need to enforce the blockade to prevent weapons smuggling. Meanwhile, Hamas called for more attempts to break the sea blockade.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement praising the military for enforcing the blockade, said there “is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza” and accused the activists of trying to “to provoke and slander Israel’s name.”

“If human rights were really important to these activists they would have sailed for Syria. We will continue to protect our borders,” he said.

Six Israeli naval vessels stopped the Estelle when it was about 30 nautical miles from Gaza. Masked soldiers boarded the ship and ordered it to sail to Israel’s Ashdod port, said a spokeswoman for the activists.

The vessel arrived at port Saturday night and was to be inspected to see what was on board, the Israeli military said. Israel’s Interior Ministry said the activists on the ship would be questioned by immigration officials and deported to their home countries within 72 hours.

The Swedish-owned Estelle left Naples, Italy, on Oct. 7 with about 30 people from eight countries, including Israeli activists, lawmakers from Norway, Sweden, Greece and Spain, and 79-year-old former NDP MP Jim Manly.

“We are committed to non-violence. We are committed to raising the illegal siege of Gaza. We think that it is important for the Canadian government to stand up for our rights,” Manly said in a pre-recorded video statement which was to be released if the ship was intercepted.

The retired politician also said he hoped Canadians would contact the government to highlight the activists’ innocence.

“Ask them urgently to insist with the Israeli government that it respect our human rights, our legal rights.”

continue reading source: http://www.vancouversun.com/mobile/news/top-stories/Canadian+custody+Israeli+navy+seizes+Palestinian+activist+boat/7422690/story.html


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One thought on “Canadian in custody as Israeli navy seizes pro-Palestinian activist boat”

  1. Netanyahu’s “there is no crisis in Gaza” comment is a joke. Regarding is his other statement “slander Israel’s name”, Israel is doing an excellent job on it’s own. It’s unfortunate Harper doesn’t have a spine and just mimics US foreign policy that includes; Israel can do no wrong. The unconditional financial and military support fuels Netanyahu’s arrogance and Arab rage.

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