Swedes demand Israel repair ship seized en route to Gaza
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Swedes demand Israel repair ship seized en route to Gaza

Ship to Strip group gets battered boat back after lengthy legal battle; will now file claim for damages

A photograph released by the IDF shows the Swedish-owned, Finnish-flagged Estelle approaching the Gaza Strip on October 20, 2012 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)
A photograph released by the IDF shows the Swedish-owned, Finnish-flagged Estelle approaching the Gaza Strip on October 20, 2012 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

Swedish rights group Ship to Gaza said Monday it will ask Israeli authorities to repair a blockade-busting ship they impounded in 2012, after Israel’s Supreme Court ordered its release.

Ship to Gaza spokesman Dror Feiler told AFP that the Finnish-flagged Estelle was in Israel’s northern port of Haifa, still afloat but unfit to put to sea.

“Last time we had a person who checked the boat, it was maybe one year or nine months ago, the condition of the boat was not good, to put it mildly,” he said in English by phone from his home in Sweden.

“It’s in salt water and we don’t know the condition of the engine, we don’t know the condition of the sails,” he said. “We will demand that the boat will be put into seaworthy condition so we can sail.”

Israeli-born activist Feiler was one of 11 Swedish nationals on the vessel when the Israeli navy commandeered it in 2012 as it neared the coast of the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Freedom Flotilla member Dror Feiler, center, speaks during a press conference on August 12, 2014, in Istanbul (AFP/BULENT KILIC)
Freedom Flotilla member Dror Feiler, center, speaks during a press conference on August 12, 2014, in Istanbul (AFP/BULENT KILIC)

He had previously renounced his Israeli citizenship and holds Swedish nationality.

The Swedes, along with activists from Norway, Canada, Spain, Italy Greece and Finland, were arrested and later deported.

In its ruling on Sunday the Supreme Court said the state impounded the ship illegally and awarded its owners legal costs of NIS 40,000 ($10,500; 9,400 euros).

“In light of everything that was said in the ruling, the judges… ordered the release of the ship immediately,” a Justice Ministry statement said.

Feiler said Ship to Gaza would now file a claim for damages.

“They kept the boat for four years and now the court is stipulating that it was illegal so we shall try to get economic compensation,” he said. “It’s much larger (than the court expenses).”

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