IDF prepares to board 'Estelle' ship 370.
"You are war criminal," a pro-Palestinian activist called through a bullhorn at
the masked Israelis soldiers as they sailed on small military vessels toward the
Gaza-bound ship Estelle on Saturday morning. "You are a pirate," the
activist yelled again.
On Tuesday, a number of videos detailing the last
moments of the ship before the navy boarded it, were released on YouTube.
In one video an activist could be heard announcing on the ship's
intercom system that they were only two or three hours away from Gaza, when the
Israeli navy radios them in English.
, this is the Israeli Navy."
The video showed small Israeli vessels in the distance, speeding across the
sparkling blue seawaters. An Israeli military helicopter flew above the
"The Gaza area and coastal region are closed to all maritime
traffic as part of the maritime blockade imposed for security purposes on the
Gaza Strip," the IDF told the Estelle.
"Your attempts to enter the Gaza
Strip are a violation of international law.
"We remind you that
humanitarian supplies may be delivered to the Gaza Strip by land.
are welcome to enter the Ashdod port and deliver the supplies through the
recognized land crossings," the IDF said.
It then warned the 30 activists
on board that if they stayed the navy would be forced to take preventive
"You are responsible for the consequences of your actions," the
The captain of the Estelle
said, "We are a normal trading
vessel. Gaza is a free state."
"I hope you do not do anything illegal on
the international waters and we can have this solved in a peaceful way," he
As he finished speaking, one activist yelled "They are coming,
ring the bell." Another activist shouted at the soldiers as they drew up
alongside the Estelle,
"Disobey your commanders." Activists have charged that
the navy used excessive force when they boarded the ship and arrested
In particular they noted that the soldiers used a taser gun, but
none of the video footage released so far reflects that.
Knowing that the
navy would confiscate their electronic equipment, the activists placed sim cards
into the bands of homing pigeons that were on board the 53-meter
Once the Navy towed the Estelle
to Ashdod, it arrested all 30
activists. The three Israelis have since been released on bail. Israel is in the
process of deporting the 27 foreigners, including former Israeli Dror Feiler,
who gave up his citizenship 30 years ago.
Israel initially treated him as
an Israeli and tried to press criminal charges, said his attorney, Gaby Lasky,
whose firm represented the activists. Feiler has been returned to administrative
detention and will likely be deported with all the foreigners, she
As of Monday night, Israel had deported 10 of the activists. By
Wednesday, they should all have left, said Lasky.
In July 2011, the UN's
Palmer Commission published a report on the IDF's interception in May 2010 of
the Turkish protest flotilla, and ruled that Israel¹s security blockade on Gaza "is both legal and appropriate." Since 2001, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have
fired more than 10,000 rockets at southern Israeli cities, towns and villages,
leading Israel to impose the blockade to prevent the entry of weapons and
material that could be used to build arms.
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