Israeli Court Orders Release of Ship That Attempted to Break Gaza Blockade

Swedish rights group Ship to Gaza says it will demand damages after court rules impounding of ship in 2012 was illegal.

The ship before it set sail for Gaza and was impounded by the Israeli navy.
AFP

A Swedish human rights group intend to demand damages for a ship impounded by Israel after the Supreme Court ordered its release on Sunday, the French news agency AFP reported.

The ship was impounded in 2012 as it neared the coast of the Gaza Strip in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory.

Israel-born activist Dror Feiler was one of 11 Swedish nationals belonging to the group "Ship to Gaza" who were on the vessel when it was commandeered by the Israeli Navy.

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

Feiler said 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.

"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 be put into seaworthy condition so we can sail it out."

The Supreme Court awarded the ship's owners legal costs of 40,000 shekels ($10,500) after ruling that it had been impounded illegally.

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)."