Tuesday, October 23, 2012

ESTELLE UPDATE: 11 unarmed activists remain in Israeli prisons; freed Israeli activists accuse Israeli military of brutalising unarmed passengers on Gaza-bound boat

Dear friends,
please find below some updates on the Estelle activists from both Israeli activists, progressive websites and also video footage released by some of the Estelle activists.

Tali Shapiro, an activist with Anarchists Against the Wall and the BDS Boycott from Within campaign, who attended the court hearings of the Israeli activists reported at the time of the hearings that the Israeli state attempted to charge the Israeli activists on board the Esteel with " violating Disengagement Law, incitement, incitement to rebellion and aiding the enemy".  Tali noted that the "Prosecution demands holding the Israeli Estelle passengers for another 5 days".

However, most of the charges were dropped against the Israeli activists and they were released.  The Israeli military has repeatedly stated they used no violence against the passengers of the Estelle, however, activists have reported that they were in fact brutalised by the Israeli Occupation Forces when the Israeli navy illegally boarded the Estelle.   According to the activists, the IOF used taser guns against the passengers and at least one man, a Greek MP, was beaten by the Israeli military.   For more information on this, see the AIC article below:

The international activists were separated from the Israeli activists. Several of the international activists have already been "expelled" from Israel.  However, eleven others remain in Israeli prisons.

According to Tali's most recent update: 
Estelle passengers still in Israel's prison: The Finnish ship's captain, 6 Swedish, 3 Norwegian and an ex-Canadian parliament member. They suffered severe army violence and the lawyers report marks on their bodies. Nevertheless they are all in high spirits and send their message to the world: Break the siege! Free Gaza!
Footage shoot by activists has also become available on the internet which shows Israel's first radio contact with the Estelle.  Please see embedded video below.

In solidarity, Kim 


Estelle Mission: First radio contact with the Israeli Occupation Forces


Israeli activists detained on Estelle released

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 03:55 Swedish Ship to Gaza: Alternative Information Center

Elik Elhanan: excessive force was used against us, without any reason; Electric shocks by taser out of vengeful hatred; A Greek MP was beaten by Shabak Security Service interrogators. 

 The ship Estelle, which Israel took over in international waters (Photo: Ship to Gaza) 

"I am now on my way home, but I keep thinking of my shipmates, my fellow activists from abroad who are still imprisoned under harsh conditions and undergo interrogation by the Shabak Security Service, among them Parliament Members from several countries," said Elik Elhanan, one of the Israeli activists who had sailed aboard the Gaza-bound Swedish ship "Estelle". Today, the court ordered his release and that of two other detained Israelis, Yonatan Shapira and Reut Mor. "At first they tried to charge us with all kinds of very serious felonies, such as 'aiding the enemy'. The court rejected this out of hand. Today they tried an article on the law books called "Attempted infiltration into a part of the Land of Israel which is not part of the State of Israel" (sic). But the court threw out this charge, too". The detained activists were represented by Attorney Gaby Lasky and her team, who have considerable experience with human rights cases.

The released detainees were cheerfully greeted by peace activists who arrived at the courtroom, among them Elik Elhanan's  parents - Rami Elhanan and Nurit Peled-Elhanan, who is the daughter of the late Major General Matti Peled. Smadar Elhanan, Elik's sister, was killed in a suicide bombing at the center of Jerusalem – a harsh experience which made surviving family members all the more determined to strive for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, so as to prevent further casualties on either side.

"I have gone though difficult days, but I certainly do not regret sailing on that boat. I knew what I was getting into" said Elik Elhanan. "During the voyage I made a special contact with Evangelis, a Member of the Greek Parliament who sailed with us. When the Naval Commandos came aboard and while we were blocking their way to the bridge, Evangelis told me we have generated in him a love for the people of Israel and a hope for a better future in the Middle East. Shortly afterwards they separated us. Yesterday evening, when they put Dror Feiler in our cell, he told us that Evangelis had been beaten by the Shabak interrogators. The Shabak lied shamelessly to the Consuls and representatives of foreign countries, telling them that their citizens and MPs were being treated well." Dror Feiler, who was born in Israel and whose mother Pnina lives in Kibbutz Yad Hana, gave up his Israeli citizenship after moving to Stockholm, and was therefore separated most of the time from the Israeli detainees.

"They used a completely disproportional amount of force against us" continues Elhanan. "When the Navy arrived to take us over, Yonatan Shapira counted no less than fifteen vessels surrounding us on all sides. Large and small ships and boats, a ship carrying a helicopter, as well as the Zodiacs of the Naval Commandos. Fifteen armed naval vessels against one small civilian boat carrying games for the children of Gaza. We must have disturbed very much the Navy and those who give orders to the Navy.

When they came aboard and we blocked their way, the soldiers knew exactly who I was. They shouted in Hebrew: 'Elhanan, you will pay for your Leftism!' and used the taser to give me electric shocks. Even after they completed their takeover of the boat, they continued to use the taser and administer more shocks. But if they think they could deter me and those who sailed with me, they are mistaken. The siege of Gaza is an ongoing crime and it must be ended. We will continue the struggle".  

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