Israeli navy rescues French sailor off Gaza coast after weeks adrift
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'There might be a god for me up there'

Israeli navy rescues French sailor off Gaza coast after weeks adrift

Jean-François Colas was heading toward Gaza with engine and equipment failure, almost out of food and water, when he was spotted

IDF personnel with a French sailor they rescued off the Gaza coast, January 18, 2019. (IDF spokesperson unit)
IDF personnel with a French sailor they rescued off the Gaza coast, January 18, 2019. (IDF spokesperson unit)

A French sailor lost in the Mediterranean for weeks has been rescued by the Israeli military off the Gaza coast, the army said Friday.

The man was recovered Thursday night drifting in a boat with a broken radio and no steering system near the Gaza Strip, the army said on Twitter.

“Our soldiers came across his boat near the Gaza Strip, rescued him, and took him for medical treatment,” the tweet said.

An army spokeswoman described the man as a fisherman traveling in a direction from Egypt toward Gaza. She said he was injured in the leg.

The sailor was later named as Jean-François Colas, an experienced seaman who has sailed around the world. Speaking Friday night to Israel’s Channel 13 news, Colas said he had sailed from Montpelier last month, and got into difficulties in the Eastern Mediterranean. He said his digital equipment failed, his engine died, his anchor chain broke, and he started to drift.

Colas said was almost out of food and water when he was spotted by the Israeli navy, he said. Laughing with relief, he added: “There might be a god for me up there.”

The Israeli army tweet included a photo of a smiling man with graying hair wearing a sea jacket and hat and surrounded by soldiers aboard an Israeli boat.

The French embassy in Tel Aviv said it had received information about the incident from the Israeli army, but did not have more any more details.

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