Israeli Navy used tasers and beat passengers aboard the Ship to Gaza

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
on 24 Comments
Estelle
Parents of Israeli activist, Elik Elhanan, protest with other activists outside the Ashdod police station, after three Israeli activists were arrested on the Estelle ship on their way to Gaza, October 20, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

Oct. 22, 2012

The Israeli activists detained on board the Estelle were released
Elik Elhanan: excessive force was used against us, without any reason

Electric shocks by taser out of vengeful hatred
A Greek MP was beaten by Shabak Security Service interrogators

“I am now on my way home, but I keep thinking of my shipmates, my fellow activists from abroad who are still imprisoned under harsh conditions and undergo interrogation by the Shabak Security Service, among them Parliament Members from several countries,” said Elik Elhanan, one of the Israeli activists who had sailed aboard the Gaza-bound Swedish ship “Estelle”. Today, the court ordered his release and that of two other detained Israelis, Yonatan Shapira and Reut Mor. “At first they tried to charge us with all kinds of very serious felonies, such as ‘aiding the enemy’. The court rejected this out of hand. Today they tried a article on the law books called “Attempted infiltration into a part of the Land of Israel which is not part of the State of Israel” (sic). But the court threw out this charge, too.” The detained activists were represented by Attorney Gaby Lasky and her team, who have considerable experience with Human Rights cases.

The released detainees were cheerfully greeted by peace activists who arrived at the courtroom, among them Elik Elhanan’s parents – Rami Elhanan and Nurit Peled-Elhanan, who is the daughter of the late Major General Matti Peled. Smadar Elhanan, Elik’s sister, was killed in a suicide bombing at the center of Jerusalem – a harsh experience which made surviving family members all the more determined to strive for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, so as to prevent further casualties on either side.

“I have gone though difficult days, but I certainly do not regret sailing on that boat. I knew what I was getting into” said Elik Elhanan. “During the voyage I made a special contact with Evangelis, a Member of the Greek Parliament who sailed with us. When the Naval Commandos came aboard and while we were blocking their way to the bridge, Evangelis told me we have generated in him a love for the people of Israel and a hope for a better future in the Middle East. Shortly afterwards they separated us. Yesterday evening, when they put Dror Feiler in our cell, he told us that Evangelis had been beaten by the Shabak interrogators. The Shabak lied shamelessly to the Consuls and representatives of foreign countries, telling them that their citizens and MPs were being treated well.” Dror Feiler, who was born in Israel and whose mother Pnina lives in Kibbutz Yad Hana, gave up his Israeli citizenship after moving to Stockholm, and was therefore separated most of the time from the Israeli detainees.

“They used a completely disproportional amount of force against us” continues Elhanan. “When the Navy arrived to take us over, Yonatan Shapira counted no less than fifteen vessels surrounding us on all sides. Large and small ships and boats, a ship carrying a helicopter, as well as the Zodiacs of the Naval Commandos. Fifteen armed naval vessels against one small civilian boat carrying games for the children of Gaza. We must have disturbed very much the Navy and those who give orders to the Navy.

When they came aboard and we blocked their way, the soldiers knew exactly who I was. They shouted in Hebrew: ‘Elhanan, you will pay for your Leftism!’ and used the taser to give me electric shocks. Even after they completed their takeover of the boat, they continued to use the taser and administer more shocks. But if they think they could deter me and those who sailed with me, they are mistaken. The siege of Gaza is an ongoing crime and it must be ended. We will continue the struggle.”

About Ship to Gaza Sweden

Ship to Gaza Sweden is an initiative for practical solidarity with the people of Gaza.

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24 Responses

  1. Philip Munger
    October 22, 2012, 5:19 pm

    “A Greek MP was beaten by Shabak Security Service interrogators”

    Obviously, MP Evangelis was being beaten by Shabak for the crime of delegitimization. To criticize these practitioners of purity of arms for the kindly administered beating(s), most likely delivered between generous offers of cookies and hot chocolate (I DO hope he was billed for the food!), certainly qualifies for the “a-S” word. /s

    What about the other EU legislators? Was he singled out?

  2. more progressive
    October 22, 2012, 5:33 pm

    blockade running is not a game and bruises and hurt feelings are very little in comparison to the traditional manner of dealing with blockade runners.

    • Philip Munger
      October 22, 2012, 5:55 pm

      the traditional manner of dealing with blockade runners

      Don’t you mean “unarmed blockade runners”? The Israelis were very aware these people were completely unarmed and had been thoroughly trained in passive, non-violent defense tactics. As was the entire fucking rest of the world who was paying attention.

      Tasers kill hundreds per year (up from 70 in 2004, and 150 between 2001 and 2003). They also cause other problems for those upon whom they have been inflicted.

      I realize their over-reaction was similar to how a lot of American cops deal with non-violent confrontations, but that doesn’t make any of this crappy conduct defensible. Or do you think it does?

      • more progressive
        October 22, 2012, 6:18 pm

        Munger, are you suggesting that any of the blockade runners was really harmed?

        do you think that the Israelis would be well advised to treat people running their blockade as if they were citizens of israel?

        do you think that the minor violence and minor ill-treatment is crappier conduct than deliberately challenging the blockade?

        six months in a military prison without outside contact would be crappy conduct. a kick in the ass and “get out of town” not so much.

      • Binyamin in Orangeburg
        October 23, 2012, 11:48 am

        Mr. Less Progressive: Were the Jewish “blockade runners” ferrying olim to Palestine deserving of a swift “kick in the ass”? See, e.g. link to en.wikipedia.org.

      • Shlomo
        October 23, 2012, 11:56 am

        So the next time an antisemite tasers Jews for running afoul of whatever self-proclaimed “blockade” gets erected, that will be kosher?

        You understand, of course, that the “Final Solution” was legal, too (the Wannsee Conference attendees being sticklers about the law). Does that mean what happened to Jews was justified? Or moral?

        Germany was a sovereign country, like Israel. It treated unarmed Jews the way it wanted, too. Was that right?

        In this case, Israel’s actions are not only not legal, they were not moral, either.

        The fact is, these acts are carried out by a state that endlessly says Nazis were evil…and the world did too little to stop the madness. Yet the once-bullied now bullies endlessly and openly, fearing no consequences. And the world, again, looks the other way.

        When will Russian send one of its warships to Gaza?

        In time America’s demographics will change. That will be the end of aid to Israel. By that time, though, I suspect things done by Israel will have gotten even more horrific. Then the tide will turn and Israel will suffer in turn. I suspect its citizens will again find it hard to flee, Jews world-wide being identified with their run-amok state.

        Israel has a few years before it goes the way of the USSR. The “thousand year” Reich lasted just 12. The Soviet union lasted 69 years. Israel is 64 this year. I predict it won’t survive as-is another 5. It will have to change or disappear.

    • W.Jones
      October 22, 2012, 5:58 pm

      What is the traditional manner of dealing with forces that board ships in international waters?

      • more progressive
        October 22, 2012, 6:19 pm

        surrender to them or try to run…. or resist and die.

      • mijj
        October 23, 2012, 3:01 am

        > “surrender to them or try to run…. or resist and die.”

        lol .. looks like you and israel get your ideas about law and order from watching saturday morning cartoons 8-)

      • talknic
        October 22, 2012, 8:03 pm

        W.Jones October 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm “What is the traditional manner of dealing with forces that board ships in international waters?”

        Ships are a part of the territory of the state under whose flag they sail.

        As such ships are subject to the laws governing states and interactions between states. Boarding a ship must be preceded by a declaration of intent, much the same as a declaration of war. (Interesting to note: The Arab states Declaration on the Invasion of Palestine was the last such declaration of war ever made)

        Loosely, if there is a Master at Arms aboard the Captain must decide if, by the stated intention, the integrity of the territory of the state is under threat by those wishing to board, at which point armed resistance may be warranted.

        If there is no Master at Arms on a ship, arms are expressly forbidden. Tools of trade such as knives etc and equipment for ships maintenance and normal running of a galley, are not arms.

        All people have the right to self defense against armed or un-armed attack whether executed by a state or non-state actors, no matter where they are.

      • southernobserver
        October 22, 2012, 8:52 pm

        I have always understood that a summary trial followed by immediate execution was traditional for piracy. The same applied to anybody receiving goods from pirates.

        In the Napoleonic wars, American, and other neutral vessels, were immune from the very active blockade of France, and from the kidnap (‘pressing’) of their sailors. If a neutral vessels was captured, the British captain not only lost his share of the loot (sorry there is a better word I amsure), but was prosecuted in the civil court for losses.

    • JohnAdamTurnbull
      October 22, 2012, 6:28 pm

      What I know of blockades is based mainly on the recent Israeli examples and the Cuban Blockade during the missile crisis. There’s a sharp contrast between the two.

      In the US-Cuba case, US inspectors demanded to board the ships to inspect them at sea. There was no question of taking command of these vessels and towing them to Key West with some vague assurance that their ordinary cargo would be trans-shipped. Further, the US sanctions on Cuba restrict or eliminate trade between the US and Cuba (and some OAS states for a time), not between Cuba and any other country. The US government was sensitive to the fact that restricting other imports or exports would been a war crime as it makes victims out of civilians. (Canada, among many other countries, continued to trade with Cuba.)

      Israel’s approach is different. It’s deceitful because Israel lies about the eventual shipment of cargoes — even those that it considers permissible. It’s absurd, because Israel demands that activists lie about their intent to enter Israel. It’s dangerous because the IDF boards with arms loaded and immediately threatens the crew into submission. It’s a war crime because it affects civilians both with respect to import and export. It’s ineffective because weapons make their way to Gaza via tunnels.

      The Israeli approach is designed to engender hatred and nothing more.

    • Avi_G.
      October 22, 2012, 9:33 pm

      more progressive says:
      October 22, 2012 at 5:33 pm

      blockade running is not a game and bruises and hurt feelings are very little in comparison to the traditional manner of dealing with blockade runners.

      Collective punishment is not a game and BDS is very little in comparison to the traditional manner of churning water with war criminals.

      The day will come when fascists like you will hide in shame when their Israeli war criminals will be standing trial at the Hague, just like Slobodan Milosevic. And that day is fast approaching with Israel losing legitimacy by the minute.

      • Shlomo
        October 23, 2012, 12:12 pm

        > “blockade running is not a game and bruises and hurt feelings are very little in comparison to the traditional manner of dealing with blockade runners.”

        So it was kosher for Germans to shoot Jews caught black marketing outside the Warsaw Ghetto? I mean, might is right and all and so they could make the rules…right?

        And Poland was like “international waters” per Deutschland, no?

    • Hostage
      October 22, 2012, 10:28 pm

      blockade running is not a game and bruises and hurt feelings are very little in comparison to the traditional manner of dealing with blockade runners.

      What a farce. Israel has never once attempted to visit and search one of these ships and let it go on its way. A cargo of childrens games isn’t contraband in any event.

      Admiralty Law has always held that passengers and crew of blockade runners are not to be treated as prisoners of war and that liability is limited to seizure of the ship and its cargo, subject to a decision obtained from a prize court. The latter is a step that the Israelis and their supporters always forget.

      The San Remo Manual stipulates that

      “Capture of a neutral merchant vessel is exercised by taking such vessel as prize for adjudication.”

      The Helsinki Principles on the Law of Maritime Neutrality provides that

      Cargo constituting contraband and a ship carrying such cargo may be seized by a belligerent, brought before a prize court and condemned. Confiscation without a prize court decision is prohibited.

      The Commentary on the San Remo Manual (page 191) says:

      “In cases of unreasonable diversion, undue delay or unnecessary interference with the ships voyage, compensation should be awarded by the prize court.”

      I hope that clears up any confusion.

      • southernobserver
        October 23, 2012, 12:54 am

        Indeed. The USA shipped grain into France through out the Napoleonic wars, with at most brief inspection, despite the hunger of the British fleet for prizes.

        Since children’s toys or building material are not contraband, this is simple piracy.

  3. radii
    October 22, 2012, 5:34 pm

    Vicious Cruelty – Israel, It’s What We Do

  4. W.Jones
    October 22, 2012, 5:55 pm

    Getting shocked with tasers is extremely painful.

    It has even killed people because of interference with the electricity in their heart rhythm, although it is intended as a nonlethal device to force submission through shock.

  5. Bruce
    October 22, 2012, 11:34 pm

    It seems Danaa’s assurances that no harm would come to the activists of the Estelle were not worth very much.

    There was also coverage in the Nordic Mass Media.

    Front page on Swedish Radio (the State Broadcasting Company):

    Nordic protest after Ship to Gaza seizure

    Swedish Radio News reports that the Nordic nations are planning a joint formal protest to Israel for its treatment of peace activists on the Ship to Gaza vessel Estelle….
    Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told the joint government-parliamentary Foreign Policy Council Monday that Sweden is not satisfied with how Israel has acted.

    link to sverigesradio.se

    • Danaa
      October 23, 2012, 2:13 am

      I should have been more specific Bruce: I meant that no activist would be put in danger for their lives. It goes without saying that israeli high seas commandos must use their tasers and administer a couple of blows (selectively) to prove their manhoods. After all, these hot shot masked mafioso guys don’t really see much action these days (shooting on a few elderly Gaza fishermen doesn’t count). Note that they picked the younger people to be tasered, figuring that might be the least they could do without running the danger of someone having a heart attack (god forbid!). That’s exactly what I meant about anticipating the actions of israelis. Sorry if i mislead you to believe that there wouldn’t be a certain amount of inconvenience – and probably a bit of pain and maybe even some humiliation – inflicted upon certain passengers.

      BTW, you should take into account that the Israelis picked ahead of time who exactly would be targeted for tasering an/or a touch of beating. The israelis in all likelihood had a profile of the general state of health of each passenger plus a solid estimate of their respective government responses. That is probably why the greek MP was selected for a little roughing. After all, he was in the opposition, and greece is in financial trouble and susceptible to blackmail by the PTB..

      Doesn’t mean I don’t understand – and support – the action of the individuals on the boat. There are days i wish to be able to board a flimsy boat and go toe to toe against the newer more thuggish macho reps of the land I was so happy to leave – once upon a time. Wouldn’t mind at all having some words with them rather than you. But alas, I would never be pure enough to be a passenger on one of these boats. But I am generally glad to see any action and was really gratified to hear about the Greek MP participating in the voyage. I can tell you that for the israelis roughing him up was part of a message to Greece.

      Unfortunately, as you can see, there was hardly a murmur about any of this “incident” in the US press.

  6. Philip Munger
    October 23, 2012, 9:14 am

    BTW, Dror Feiler, one of the Swedes still being held, has been in the sights of the Israelis now for almost a decade. He’s a former Israeli, having denounced his citizenship long ago. He is one of the top organizers of this one-boat flotilla, having started the organization to sponsor the boat, in Turku, Finland.

    Sweden has still not received an explanation from the Israeli authorities why one of the Swedes on the Estelle has been separated from the others. The Ship to Gaza organisation says that activist Dror Feiler is to be charged, as an Israeli citizen, with aiding the enemy.
    The Swedish foreign ministry says that Feiler has only Swedish citizenship. He was born in Israel but that citizenship was rescinded in 1983 when he became a Swedish citizen. Israel has confirmed this status to the Swedish foreign ministry.

    link to sverigesradio.se

    Feiler and his wife created an art work back in February 2004, that so incensed the Israeli ambassador to Sweden, he attempted to destroy the art, and saw himself being thrown out of a building, almost thrown out of Sweden:

    Israel’s ambassador to Sweden was kicked out of Stockholm’s Museum of National Antiquities after he destroyed an artwork featuring a picture of a Palestinian suicide bomber, news reports said.

    The incident, widely reported in the Swedish media, occurred at the opening on Friday of the “Making Differences” exhibit, part of an upcoming international conference on genocide hosted by the Swedish Government and in which Israel is scheduled to participate.

    “I was really looking forward to seeing what the artists had done. Instead, I was met by a picture of a smiling suicide bomber, the woman who killed 21 people in Haifa a few months ago,” ambassador Zvi Mazel told Swedish news agency TT.

    The art installation, located in the museum’s courtyard, featured a fountain filled with red water, designed to look like blood.

    A sailboat with the name Snow White floated on the water, and on it was a photo of a smiling Hanadi Jaradat, the female lawyer who blew herself up in the Haifa suicide bombing attack in October which killed 21 Israelis.

    “For me it was intolerable and an insult to the families of the victims. As ambassador to Israel I could not remain indifferent to such an obscene misrepresentation of reality,” Mr Mazel said.

    Museum director Kristian Berg said the ambassador went berserk when he saw the piece.

    “He pulled out the plugs and threw one of the spotlights into the fountain which caused the entire installation to short-circuit and made it totally life-threatening,” he told TT.

    One of the two artists who created the work, Dror Feiler, was to perform a piece of music but refused to do so as long as the ambassador remained at the scene.

    “Ultimately we had to escort the ambassador out of the museum,” Mr Berg said, adding that he did not consider the artwork to be a provocation.

    “It is rather an invitation to think about why such things happen in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said.

    Museum artistic director Thomas Nordanstad said he had given the artists the go-ahead to create the artwork, and had “hoped it would lead to an artistic dialogue”.

    link to medialens.org

    more on the work of art and the incident:

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    I included a section on this incident in a speech in April 2004 that also discussed Israeli over-reaction to other art works at that time.

  7. manfromatlan
    October 23, 2012, 10:02 am

    “Evangelis told me we have generated in him a love for the people of Israel and a hope for a better future in the Middle East.”

    One can only hope…

  8. ritzl
    October 23, 2012, 10:19 am

    OT but related to the blockade of Gaza:

    Israel slams Qatari ruler’s Gaza visit

    The Qatari ruler on Tuesday became the first head of state to visit Gaza since Hamas seized control of the strip five years ago.

    link to ynetnews.com

    The “first” aspect of this visit is significant. Now if some head of state would just hop on one of the boats…

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