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It has been a year since the hijacking of Ship to Gaza Sweden’s sailing ship S/V Estelle. The hijacking took place in international waters, 38 nautical miles off the coast of the Gaza strip.
Thirty people from eight countries were on board, firmly decided to non-violently challenge the illegal blockade of Gaza. Gaza, the port of Palestine, was the destination, as was the 1,7 million Palestinians who by then had lived under siege for over six years. A reception of the boat was prepared. Estelle symbolized hope for an end of isolation and politics of separation, and an end to the devastating consequences on living conditions and freedom of movement.
The Israeli military chose to once again board a civilian vessel, loaded with humanitarian cargo and symbolic gifts from the many people who welcomed and supported Estelle’s travel from Scandinavia through Europe. The boarding was a military operation, and the operation was needless to say not peaceful. According to the IDF seventy soldiers boarded the ship. Thirty people were taken as prisoners and, against there will, taken to Israel. All activists without Israeli citizenship were deported and banned from entering Israel. Israel kept S/V Estelle and the ship is now under threat of confiscation. The whereabouts of Estelle's cargo remains unknown to its rightful owners: Donors as well as recipients.
Estelle was the latest of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition ships to challenge the blockade. The blockade is now running on its seventh year, and has through the actions of the Egyptian regime lately even worsened its grip on the lives of the people in Gaza. We are perpetuating our fight for human rights and freedom for the Palestinian people.
Dror Feiler, Ann Ighe, Victoria Strand, spokespersons for Ship to Gaza Sweden
Picture and a list of passengers and crew on the last leg of Estelle’s journey:
A movie about Estelle’s journey through Europe, made by filmmaker and activist Laura Arau.
The support campaign that emerged on Facebook during the days before and after the boarding.