#Estelle Ship to Gaza urges the Government of Sweden to protest against Israel´s piracy and politics of siege

Oct 27, 2012 | Ship to Gaza Sweden

Following letter was sent on Friday 26th of October from Ship to Gaza to the Foreign Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt:

To Foreign Minister Carl Bildt

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs

103 33 Stockholm

Once again the Israeli government has acted contrary to international law. The boarding of the Finnish-flagged sailing ship S/V Estelle took place in international waters. The ship was forcibly taken to the Israeli seaport of Ashdod.

Both passengers and crew were subjected to violence, detained and forced to undergo severe and persistent questioning by the Israeli security service, on the basis of being accused of having illegally entered Israel.

We much appreciate the efforts made by the Swedish diplomatic representatives in Israel to achieve the release of those detained, and the help the latter received in leaving Israel. We also noted with satisfaction that the Swedish and Finnish diplomatic representatives in Israel protested at the fact that Israel, contrary to the Vienna Convention, for a considerable length of time refused them the opportunity to meet their citizens who had been detained.

But we feel that it is incumbent upon the Swedish government publicly to draw the attention of the international community to the crime that Israel committed, and continues to commit, with its collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza, and demand that the Israeli government immediately takes action to return the hijacked sailing ship, its cargo, its medical equipment and stocks of medicines, and the personal effects belonging to the passengers and crew, which were stolen when the ship was boarded and they were detained on Israeli territory.

We therefore suggest that the Swedish government should protest against the following:

.that the Israeli navy boarded and hijacked the ship in international waters,

.that the Israeli navy used disproportionate physical force against the passengers and crew, including the use of tasers, against at least thirteen people, including several members of parliament,

.that the Israeli navy tore down the Finnish flag from the ship and replaced it with the Israeli flag,

.that the S/V Estelle was forcibly and with violence taken from international waters to Israeli territory,

.that all those on board the S/V Estelle were detained and subjected to severe and persistent questioning, threats and humiliating treatment, including in the form of repeated body searches,

.that passengers and crew were accused of having illegally entered Israeli territory.

We assume that the Swedish government will demand that the Israeli government immediately return the S/V Estelle ship to its owner, the Swedish-owned but Finnish-registered company Northern Breeze OY, in the condition the ship was in before it was hijacked, and without further delay return all personal effects, mobile telephones, cameras, computers, etc. that were confiscated from the passengers and crew.

We also assume that the Swedish government will be vigilant in ensuring that the cargo for which Ship to Gaza has Bills of Lading (41 tonnes of cement) is not discharged without the owner’s consent.

During the Israeli security service’s questioning, it emerged that they were aware of information concerning the people who had been detained, and their circumstances, that would indicate that this had been acquired by means of unlawful spying activities on the part of the Israeli state, or alternatively that the Swedish security police had handed over information to their Israeli colleagues. Whichever is the case, these must be seen as extremely serious acts against Swedish citizens and we assume that the government will take the actions required to establish how and/or from where the Israelis collected their information, and bring those responsible to account.

The EU, the Swedish government and we at Ship to Gaza are agreed that the Israeli blockade of Gaza must be ended. But it is clear that words alone achieve nothing. Our action therefore not only points the finger at the Israeli blockade of Gaza, but also at the fact that the EU’s and the government’s policy in this matter has been shown to be inadequate. As long as the EU or national governments do not apply pressure on the Israeli government to end the blockade, in practice passivity means acceptance of the fact that 1.6 million inhabitants of Gaza are to continue to live in a prison, dependent on the aid provided by the international community.

The Middle East is on the agenda for next week’s meeting of Nordic foreign ministers in Helsinki. It would be an excellent occasion for the Nordic foreign ministers, and particularly the foreign ministers of Sweden, Finland and Norway, to announce concrete measures against the blockade, to protest against the act of piracy committed against the S/V Estelle and demand that Israel returns the ship and all personal effects to the passengers and crew.

It would also be an excellent occasion to show that the Nordic countries treat everyone equally; the EU and Sweden send navy forces out against pirates off the Somali coast. Are the EU and Sweden prepared to protect shipping in the Mediterranean against the Israeli state’s pirate activities?

Stockholm 26 oktober 2012

För Ship to Gaza Sverige

Dror Feiler

Mattias Gardell

Ann Ighe

Victoria Strand




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