Israeli Commandos Seize Activists in International Waters


Oct. 20. 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The "Estelle", the Ship to Gaza Sweden ship that has been traveling since June has been seized by Israeli commandos and its passengers and contents taken to Ashdod. The Israeli website Ynet quotes Israeli activist Dror Feiler who took part in the Swedish ship to Gaza as saying the boat was attacked in international waters at 10:15 a.m. local time

The boat registered in Finland and owned by Swedes was carrying "two olive trees, 41 tons of cement, books, toys, and medical equipment." according to the paper. Nevertheless it quotes an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesperson as saying "has a right to operate at sea to prevent the smuggling of arms to terror organizations."

The group's website was down for some time probably via cyberattack. Their Facebook page is here.

The Israeli media claim the activists were seized without violence. However, in the past that usually means no major injuries. Activists universally complain of beatings and rough handling.

Comment1: The New York Times has written nothing about this story though it did find space for an article about how Disney has changed the "Country Bear Jamboree" at Disneyworld. Perhaps you might write to Executive Editor Jill Abramson and ask for coverage of the attack. Her email is: executive-editor@nytimes.com

Comment2: The Ynet article reports that members of the Greek Parliament were on board the ship no doubt members of Syriza Greek's anit-austerity party which came within a whisker of winning the last election.

Comment3: Noam Chomsky is in Gaza. Presumably he was allowed in through Egypt. This Jewish-American world famous scholar who lived for a time on an Israeli kibbutz was barred from Israel the last time he tried to enter.

Comment4: Apparently the Israeli government assumed that Gaza Palestinians would use the olive trees and cement to make nuclear missiles to hurl at Israel.

Comment5: And why is this not an act of piracy? Most of the boats taken in the 2010 attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla are still held by Israel as are the money, computers, cameras, etc. of the activist passengers.

Comment6: And what of the Egyptian "revolution" and the Muslim Brotherhood government there? Why wasn't it escorting the ship at least while it was off the coast of Egypt?