Seized Gaza ship captain accuses Israel of breaking international law

Israeli navy ships maneuver at the military port of Ashdod, southern Israel, on July 29, 2018 before intercepting a Norwegian boat carrying pro-Palestinian activists en route to Gaza. (AFP file photo)
Updated 02 August 2018

Seized Gaza ship captain accuses Israel of breaking international law

  • Israeli naval forces intercepted the Norwegian-flagged Karstein ship carrying pro-Palestinian activists en route to Gaza last Sunday
  • Several have been released since, but seven people, includingtwo Norwegians, were still detained as of Thursday

OSLO, Norway: The captain of a Norwegian boat carrying pro-Palestinian activists en route to Gaza has accused Israeli authorities of violating the law by boarding the vessel in international waters and using violent force against its crew.

Norway has asked Israel to explain the circumstances surrounding the arrests and “the allegations of excessive use of force,” a Norwegian government spokesman said on Thursday.

“We were arrested in international waters and we were closer to Egypt than Israel,” the boat’s captain Herman Reksten said early Thursday when he returned to Norway after being held for three days in an Israeli prison.

“Israel has broken all the rules, it’s horrific that they board a Norwegian ship in international waters and force it to moor in Israel,” he told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.

The Israeli army on Sunday announced the seizure of a boat off the Gaza Strip with activists who were denouncing the land and sea blockade imposed by the Jewish state on the Palestinian enclave for more than a decade.

The Norwegian-flagged Karstein ship had 22 people on board.

Several have been released since, but seven people — two Norwegians, two Swedes, one French, one Spaniard and one Canadian — were still detained on Thursday according to the rights organization Just Future for Palestine.

As he arrived at Oslo International Airport, Karstein captain Herman Reksten also accused Israeli soldiers of shocking the activists with tasers.

“I still have a headache from being hit in prison,” he added.

Contacted by AFP, the Israeli Embassy in Oslo was not immediately available for comment.

“We’ve asked the Israeli authorities to clarify the course of events and on what basis they think they are entitled to intervene on the ship,” Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman Frode Andersen told AFP in an email.

“We will also raise the allegations of excessive use of force,” he added.

Oslo says it has not yet received a response.


Before and after satellite images show Beirut port decimated

Updated 8 min 37 sec ago

Before and after satellite images show Beirut port decimated

  • The images from Maxar e shows a huge crater now filled with sea water next to a grain silo building
  • A passenger ship can be seen capsized by the blast
 

 LONDON: High-resolution sateliite images have realed the scale of destruction wrought upon Lebanon's main port after twin explosions killed more than 100 people.

The images were taken from satellites belonging to US-based imaging company Maxar.

The after image shows a huge crater now filled with sea water next to a grain silo building which somehow wasn't completely flattened.

Every other warehouse in the image has been flattened, with just the steel skeletons remaining. Across the other side of the dock, a passenger ship, the Orient Queen, has been blown on to its side by the blast, while other vessels appear destroyed.

Lebanese officials say 2,750 tonnes of highly explosive ammonium nitrate had been stored for six years at the port without safety measure. Reuters reported that a fire started at one warehouse before it spread to abother storing the chemical, which is used in fertilizer and bombs. 

Videos showed a fire and an initial explosion before the massive second explosion sent a shockwave across the city, killing scores, wounding thousands and destroying and damaging buildings.

The blast was felt in Cyprus almost 200 kilometers away. Sim Tack, an analyst and weapons expert at the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor, said based on the crater and glass windows being blown out a distance away, the warehouse exploded with the force equivalent to detonating at least 2.2 kilotons of TNT.

*With agencies