Saturday, October 20, 2012

Israel boards & seizes Swedish Gaza-bound ship, the Estelle

Dear friends,
no doubt many of you have been following the journey of the activists aboard the Swedish ship (under Finnish flag) the Estelle which has been preparing to try and break the siege of Gaza carrying humanitarian aid.
Reports have come from the Estelle that she was being surrounded by the Israeli navy earlier today at around 10.15 am central European time (approximately 7.15pm Melbourne time).
An update from the Estelle on the Swedish Ship to Gaza website noted:
According to Dror Feiler, spokesperson for Ship to Gaza Sweden, Estelle was attacked at 10.15 AM CET. Five or six military vessels surrounded Estelle. Soldiers wearing masks are now trying to board the ship. The attack took place on international waters: N31 26 E33 45
According to Israeli media reports the ship has now been boarded and seized by Israel.
Please find below an interview with the media spokesperson for the Ship to Gaza given to Al Jazeera just as the Estelle was being surrounded and the subsequent article on the boarding of the Estelle.
in solidarity, Kim
Gaza-bound aid ship boarded by Israeli forces

Organisers of ship carrying pro-Palestinian activists seeking to reach Gaza say Israeli soldiers have boarded vessel.

 20 Oct 2012: Al Jazeera

A ship carrying pro-Palestinian activists seeking to breach Israel's naval blockade on Gaza has "come under attack"
shortly after being approached by Israeli vessels, a spokeswoman said.

"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 the AFP news agency on Saturday.

According to Dror Feiler, another spokesperson, the Estelle, whose passengers include five parliamentarians from Europe and a former Canadian politician, was attacked at around 08:15 GMT.

"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," Feiler said.
The Israeli military confirmed that the ship was boarded, after first denying that they had attacked or boarded it.

"A short while ago, Israeli navy soldiers boarded Estelle, a vessel which was en route to the Gaza Strip, attempting to break the maritime security blockade," it said in a statement.
It said that the Finnish-flagged vessel was being led to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod.
The Estelle, the latest ship to try to break Israel's blockade on Gaza as part of the 'Freedom Flotilla' movement, set sail from Naples in southern Italy.

Luigi de Magistris, the mayor of Naples, met with members of the crew during a visit to the Estelle in the city's port.

The Estelle, whose voyage is being organised by an international pro-Palestinian coalition, is carrying humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip.

There are 17 activists from around the world on board, including passengers and crew from Canada, Israel, Norway, Sweden and the US.

No comments: