Israel threatens violence as Estelle reaches Med
Israel warns Finland over Gaza-bound flotilla
By Al Akhbar
October 14, 2012
Israel has warned Finland that it will stop a boat of pro-Palestinian activists by force if it tries to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip, a Finnish foreign ministry spokesman said Saturday.
“The foreign ministry has been informed by Israel that it would intervene if the ship Estelle, which is flying the Finnish flag, tries to break [Israel’s] blockade against Gaza from the sea,” Risto Piipponen told state television.
“We told Israel that the Estelle is a civilian vessel and that its crew is made up of civilians,” he said, adding that Israel had been asked to act appropriately in this regard.
The Estelle set sail for Gaza from Naples, Italy on October 6 in the latest bid to break Israel’s blockade that has paralyzed Gaza since being imposed in 2007.
The yacht is carrying 16 people, mostly from Western countries, including one Israeli national, as well as humanitarian aid. Depending on weather conditions, it is expected to reach Gaza in two weeks.
The voyage was organized by an international pro-Palestinian coalition.
The first Freedom Flotilla in May 2010 ended in tragedy when nine Turkish nationals were killed after Israeli commandos raided the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara and opened fire on the activists as they tried to break through the blockade.
A second attempt to break the blockade in mid-2011 by a fleet of ships setting sail from Athens failed after Greek authorities intercepted the boats, banning their departure and towing back into port those who tried to leave.
Last November, the Israeli navy also intercepted two Irish and Canadian ships carrying 27 passengers and crew that were trying to breach the blockade in international waters off Gaza.
The Estelle set off originally from Sweden and arrived in the Gulf of Naples on October 4 after a tour of Europe, including Finland, France and Spain. Its exact location can be followed on the flotilla’s Ship to Gaza website.
Ship to Gaza, Publiceringsdatum
October 10, 2012
Israel’s policy of siege against Gaza is not conducted solely by military means. Diplomats, lawyers and IT-specialists are also mobilised. This is not something the government keeps secret. On the contrary, these acts of pressure on other governments to stop or discourage their citizens to take part in the Flotilla actions, are sometimes publicly announced.
Pressure has these last weeks been directed towards port authorities in Alicante, Barcelona, La Spezia and Naples. In contrast to their Greek colleagues last summer, they did not give in. Thanks to local politicians and civil servants with integrity and a sense of justice Estelle could, after thorough inspections, sail on.
Another example of attempts to stop Ship to Gaza happened On the 27th of September, when our marine insurance company received threats from Shurat HaDin, an Israeli “Law Center”. They claimed, without any documentation of any sort to underpin this, that the Flotilla actions is aiming to smuggle weapons to Gaza, and is pursued in support of Hamas. Shurat HaDin accuses and threatenes not only the marine insurance company but also its re-insurers of being financers of terrorism. Shurat HaDin also congratulates themselves to previous pressuring on the maritime insurance industry and thus contributing to the obstruction and partial detention of the Freedom Flotilla in Greek ports in 2011, as well as filing law suits against former American President Jimmy Carter.
Ship to Gaza and Freedom Flotilla Coalition has obviously neither the possibility nor the will to measure up to these combined forces available to our opponents, when it comes to force, diplomats, legal expertise and IT-specialists jamming homepages, phone- and radio communication. And we have no ambition to compete in these areas. We are, as a civil society action, pursuing a just cause with peaceful means.
Israel threatens Estelle with force
By Ship to Gaza
October 12, 2012
The SV Estelle today received a message from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, saying that being the flag state of Estelle they were informed by Israel of the following: ”in case SV Estelle seeks to break the blockade at sea on Gaza (20 nautical miles), Israel will intervene in the situation by using force. Should this take place, the safety of the people on board may be jeopardised.” We urge Israel not to use force against a peacefully approaching vessel. The Estelle is a part of an international civil society action, sailing for human rights. Neither the boat nor the passengers constitutes any threat against anyone. Attacking the boat with force is a choice that Israel may and may not make. We hope that the people and the governments of the world will stand on the side of human rights and non-violence.
Ship to Gaza – Sweden
Dror Feiler +46702855777
Mattias Gardell +46703036666
Ann Ighe +46709740739
Victoria Strand +46727356564
Coordinator of the media
Mikael Löfgren +46707983643