When will Norway protest against hijacking and extensive violence against people on board a Norwegian-flagged vessel?
Press release from Ship to Gaza Norway 6 August 2018
On 29 July, the Norwegian-flagged former fishing vessel Kårstein (also known as Al Awda, The Return) was hijacked in international waters, with extensive violence by Israeli navy soldiers. For more than a week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ follow-up of the case has limited itself to asking Israeli authorities to “clarify the course of events” and say why they “encroached on the vessel”. No indication of protest.
Now Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide has continued this game. After talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu she said that “we asked the Israeli authorities for an explanation of why the ship was captured, the course of events and the use of power.” Still no indication of protest.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ gathering of facts in the case limits itself to the embassy personnel’s talks with five Norwegian citizens in Israeli prison the day after the hijacking. After they were deported and able to speak freely, they have not been contacted by the MFA. There were people from 16 nations on board. Their version has not been obtained. The ship’s highly recognized doctor, a UK citizen who delivered a shocking report on Saturday, has not been contacted.
However, in the talks with the five Norwegian citizens in prison, there were revealed more than enough to justify a strong protest. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs knows that our action was non-violence based and that the ship had a load of desperately needed medical equipment. Regardless of possible differences in view on international law, there is of course no legal basis for hijacking a ship in international waters by assaulting peaceful, non-violent people and use heavy violence against them.
Nor is there any legal basis for stealing everything of valuables and clothing. From Mikkel Grüner, a member of Bergen city council, the soldiers stole everything except for the ship’s Norwegian flag, which they had trampled on. The Foreign Minister obviously does not know that the soldiers have taken all the belongings of the people on board.
Israel has always lied about how they use military power. Every time they say that the operation has been done without violence, but we have documented through video footage that it is a lie. This time, violence was worse than on prior occasions since 2011, and Israel’s ambassador continues with the same nonsense.
What Israel does in this case is of course just a pale shadow of what they do to the Palestinians, including daily attacks on the fishers of Gaza. A pleasant chat with those responsible for violence, terror and mass murder will lead to nothing except for the game to continue. Since governments do nothing that may stop this, people with conscience and knowledge must do something. That is why we sailed to Gaza. The result is international effects that show that it is ordinary people’s action, pressure and protest that can eventually produce results.
Contact the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Foreign minister – Ine Eriksen Søreide
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +47 2395 0000
Twitter: @NorwayMFA @Utenriksdept
And other governments of the participants and crew on board: