Israel has violated international law by seizing a Gaza-bound humanitarian ship in international waters and using excessive force to arrest its crew and passengers, the boat’s captain says.
“We were arrested in international waters and we were closer to Egypt than Israel,” Herman Reksten, the captain of the Norwegian Karstein ship, said Thursday upon arrival at Oslo International Airport after being held for three days in an Israeli jail.
Captain Reksten said that the Israeli troops used tasers against the activists, adding, “I still have a headache from being hit in prison.”
A Norwegian government spokesman also said the country was yet to receive a clarification from Israel on why the 22 pro-Palestinian activists on board the boat were arrested.
Norway’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Frode Andersen said it had asked Israel to “clarify the course of events and on what basis they think they are entitled to intervene on the ship.”
According to the group Ship to Gaza Norway, which organized the shipment, all of the activists have been released and expelled or are about to be deported soon.
However, the fate of an ailing Canadian passenger was uncertain on Thursday.
The intercepted vessel was one of the four ships that made up the Freedom Flotilla, which intended to break Israel’s nearly 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Back in late May 2010, an Israeli raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, comprising six civilian ships, killed 10 Turkish activists in high seas and sent the Ankara-Tel Aviv ties into a tailspin.
Israel’s military raid against the civilian flotilla was met with global condemnation. The United Nations Security Council called for a prompt investigation into the incident and the United Nations Human Rights Council described the attack as “outrageous.”
Additionally, numerous attempts have been made throughout the years to draw the public attention to the ongoing siege of Gaza. From 2008 through 2016, international activists have sailed 31 ships and boats to challenge the Israeli naval blockade.