Israel seized a Norwegian boat carrying pro-Palestinian activists that was headed toward Gaza on July 29, prompting an outcry from the Norwegian government.
The 22 people on the boat were attempting to protest Israel’s blockade against Gaza; Israel boarded the ship and arrested the activists. Most of the arrested activists have been released and deported, though seven remain in Israeli jail.
“Israel has broken all the rules,” Herman Reksten, the captain of the boat, told a Norwegian media outlet. “It’s horrific that they board a Norwegian ship in international waters and force it to moor in Israel.”
Reksten has also claimed that Israel used “excessive force” by using tasers.
Israel has defended its actions.
“The ones that were acting against international law were those activists who were attempting to breach an internationally-recognized legal naval blockade over the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by an Islamic terror organization, Hamas,” Dan Poraz, a diplomat at the Israeli embassy in Norway, told AFP. “There was definitely not a use of excessive violence. There was use of a minimal and reasonable amount of force simply because the crew members … were reluctant to cooperate and to follow orders from the (Israeli) navy.”
Aussie Dave, a blogger at the Israellycool website, argued that there were contradictions in the various passengers’ stories. He pointed out that while the captain accused the Israeli navy of using tasers, another activist claims the soldiers “savagely beat” the passengers on the ship and another claimed they were surrounded by heavy artillery, but did not accuse the soldiers of violence.
“In other words, they are lying,” Aussie Dave wrote. “Not that this is surprising – it is what they do in order to generate sympathy for their morally bankrupt cause.”
Israel has implemented the blockade against Gaza ever since Hamas seized control of the strip in 2006 to prevent military equipment from reaching the terror group; however, Israel still provides humanitarian aid to Gaza. Similarly, Egypt also has a blockade against Gaza, but unlike Israel, they don’t provide any humanitarian aid to Gaza.