Jim Manly: The Estelle, the attack by the Israeli navy and the people of Gaza

Statement by Jim Manly

October 25th, 2012

The Estelle, the attack by the Israeli navy and the people of Gaza

I’m glad to be back in Canada and I want to thank the many people who have supported me with their prayers and hard work. It was a privilege to be on the Finnish sailing ship, Estelle, as the representative of the Canadian Boat to Gaza and Gaza’s Ark movement and it was good to know that the members of that movement were working night and day to make our voyage a success.

The Estelle’s proposed trip to Gaza was a Swedish venture with original crew from Finland, Sweden and Norway, joined by representatives from Spain, Italy and Greece and myself from Canada. There were five members of Parliament on board from Norway, Sweden, Spain and Greece (2). Three former members of the Israeli Defence Forces who are committed to ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine made a great contribution to our voyage. Everyone on board was committed to non-violence but with a deep dedication to ending Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza. The Estelle carried a cargo of humanitarian aid, consisting mostly of cement for rebuilding but also some play equipment and balls. Canada contributed an anchor, which was to be used for a boat to be rebuilt in Gaza, which would attempt to carry trade goods to the outside world.

On Saturday, October 20, the Estelle was attacked in international waters by Israeli gunboats, boarded and taken over by Israeli soldiers—all wearing balaclavas so they could not be recognized. Eleven members of the crew, including two senior citizens, were tasered for their non-violent resistance. This act of piracy was celebrated by taking down the flag of Finland and running up the Israeli flag—which seems to have replaced the skull and cross bones for such ventures. This pirate action, which dishonours the Israeli flag, must make many humanitarian Israelis deeply ashamed of their country.

We were taken prisoner, brought into Ashdod, interrogated and taken to prison for three days before being deported for “having entered Israel illegally.” In prison, although we were subjected to indignities, we were not treated badly.

We need to put things in perspective.  The real story is not our arrest, not even the hijacking of the Estelle in international waters. The real story concerns the death dealing chokehold that Israel holds over the people of Gaza. The voyage of the Estelle and my participation in it was our attempt to rouse the peoples of the world to take action against this evil and to send a message of hope and solidarity to the Palestinian peoples of Gaza letting them know that they are not forgotten. The blockade of Gaza has not yet been lifted but be assured that we will continue our efforts until it has been and the Palestinian peoples can once again live with freedom and dignity.

Jim Manly

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