The Israeli Navy has intercepted the Estelle, a ship attempting to break the illegal blockade of Gaza.
Below is the pre-recorded video of former Canadian MP and retired United Church Minister Jim Manly, which he recorded for distribution at the time contact with him on the Estelle was lost.
Please write to politicians below. Demand that they protest with the Israeli government the hijacking of the Estelle and all crew, including former Canadian MP Jim Manly, and demand their safety and immediate release.
Stephen Harper (Prime Minister of Canada)
John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs)
NDP (Official Opposition)
Thomas Mulcair (Leader)
Paul Dewar (Foreign Affairs Critic)
Bob Rae (Leader)
Dominic LeBlanc (Foreign Affairs Critic)
– Louis Plamondon
Here is a CBC report on the hijacking:
Israeli naval vessels take control of Gaza boat
Soldiers board the Swedish-owned Estelle as it attempts to break blockade
Israeli naval vessels thwarted the advance of a pro-Palestinian boat attempting to reach Gaza on Saturday in defiance of Israel’s blockade of the territory, the military said.
Former NDP MP and retired United Church minister Jim Manly gets ready to board the Estelle in Naples earlier in the week with an anchor from Canada.Former NDP MP and retired United Church minister Jim Manly gets ready to board the Estelle in Naples earlier in the week with an anchor from Canada. (YouTube)
The ships diverted the Estelle to the nearby port of Ashdod after those on board refused to steer the vessel off its course, the military said in a statement. The passengers, numbering about 30, did not offer resistance.
“A short while ago, Israeli naval soldiers boarded the Estelle en route to the Gaza Strip attempting to break the maritime security blockade,” the statement said.
Victoria Strand, a spokeswoman for Ship to Gaza in Sweden, which sent the Estelle, told the Associated Press that armed, masked soldiers boarded the boat and cut their communications as they were some 30 nautical miles from Gaza. She said activists on board told her that some six naval boats surrounded their vessel.
“This is a demonstration of ruthlessness,” Strand said.
Some of the items aboard the Estella:
- two olive trees
- 41 tonnes of cement
- wheelchairs, walkers and crutches
- midwifery stethoscope
- children books and toys
- 300 footballs
- musical instruments
- theatrical equipment, especially lightning
- an anchor from the Canadian contingent for a vessel, Gaza’s Ark, to be built in Gaza
- VHF radio for the Gaza’s Ark project
The Swedish-owned, Finnish-flagged Estelle left Naples, Italy, on Oct. 7 with about 30 people from eight countries, carrying items like cement, basketballs and musical instruments. The activists include Jim Manly, a former NDP member of Parliament from Saskatchewan.
They were trying to challenge Israel’s blockade, imposed since 2007. The ship was the latest in a series of activist-manned boats challenging Israel’s blockade on Gaza. Activists have sent a series of blockade-defying vessels to Gaza, most of which have been similarly diverted to Ashdod.
Yigal Pakmor, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign affairs department, told CBC there is a rapidly decreasing list of what isn’t allowed to go into Gaza and that list is being progressively reduced.
Pakmor said the flotillas are purely “political posturing.”
In 2010, an Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla killed nine Turkish activists on board. After the raid, Israel eased much of its blockade, although it maintains restrictions on key exports and imports of raw materials.