for immediate release
contact: US Boat to Gaza, Robert Naiman, 217-979-2857; firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, October 20, 6AM EDT
Shortly after 4:00AM EDT, when the Gaza-bound Estelle was in international waters about 30 nautical miles from Gaza, Israeli warships surrounded the Estelle and forcibly boarded and took command of the ship and took its 30 passengers into custody.
Israeli authorities have announced that they are taking the boat and its passengers to the Israeli port of Ashdod. Past experience indicates that the Israeli authorities will likely charge the passengers with attempting to illegally enter Israel, although they were trying to go to Gaza, not Israel.
"The international human rights activists on the Estelle were trying to peacefully sail to Gaza, as is their right," said Jane Hirschmann, an organizer of the U.S. boat to Gaza. "The international community has a profound obligation to speak up against this unjust and illegal action and against the illegal blockade of Gaza's civilian population."
"As Americans, we call on the U.S. government to stop enabling Israeli government violations of international law," said Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy and a passenger last year on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, the Audacity of Hope. "If a country which was not a U.S. ally took these actions, the U.S. government would likely be critical. It's time to end this double standard in U.S. policy."
Among others, the following individuals were on board the Estelle:
Former Member of Parliament Manly James, Canada
Member of Parliament Hagen Aksel, Norway
Member of Parliament Britton Sven, Sweden
Member of Parliament Kodelas Dimitios, Greece
Member of Parliament Sixto Ricardo, Spain
Member of Parliament Diamantopoulos Evangelos, Greece
* Full list of individuals on board:
* Pictures of passengers on board
* Jim Manly’s pre-recorded video message: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Jim Manly’s wife, Eva Manly 250-616-3166
Ehab Lotayef, Canadian Boat to Gaza, 514-941-9792
David Heap, Canadian Boat to Gaza +972 59 289 3106