"I am now on my way home, but I keep thinking of my shipmates, my fellow activists from abroad who are still imprisoned under harsh conditions and undergo interrogation by the Shabak Security Service, among them Parliament Members from several countries," said Elik Elhanan, one of the Israeli activists who had sailed aboard the Gaza-bound Swedish ship "Estelle". Today, the court ordered his release and that of two other detained Israelis, Yonatan Shapira and Reut Mor. "At first they tried to charge us with all kinds of very serious felonies, such as 'aiding the enemy'. The court rejected this out of hand. Today they tried a article on the law books called "Attempted infiltration into a part of the Land of Israel which is not part of the State of Israel" (sic). But the court threw out this charge, too". The detained activists were represented by Attorney Gaby Lasky and her team, who have considerable experience with Human Rights cases.
The released detainees were cheerfully greeted by peace activists who arrived at the courtroom, among them Elik Elhanan's parents - Rami Elhanan and Nurit Peled-Elhanan, who is the daughter of the late Major General Matti Peled. Smadar Elhanan, Elik's sister, was killed in a suicide bombing at the center of Jerusalem – a harsh experience which made surviving family members all the more determined to strive for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, so as to prevent further casualties on either side.
"I have gone though difficult days, but I certainly do not regret sailing on that boat. I knew what I was getting into" said Elik Elhanan. "During the voyage I made a special contact with Evangelis, a Member of the Greek Parliament who sailed with us. When the Naval Commandos came aboard and while we were blocking their way to the bridge, Evangelis told me we have generated in him a love for the people of Israel and a hope for a better future in the Middle East. Shortly afterwards they separated us. Yesterday evening, when they put Dror Feiler in our cell, he told us that Evangelis had been beaten by the Shabak interrogators. The Shabak lied shamelessly to the Consuls and representatives of foreign countries, telling them that their citizens and MPs were being treated well." Dror Feiler, who was born in Israel and whose mother Pnina lives in Kibbutz Yad Hana, gave up his Israeli citizenship after moving to Stockholm, and was therefore separated most of the time from the Israeli detainees.
"They used a completely disproportional amount of force against us" continues Elhanan. "When the Navy arrived to take us over, Yonatan Shapira counted no less than fifteen vessels surrounding us on all sides. Large and small ships and boats, a ship carrying a helicopter, as well as the Zodiacs of the Naval Commandos. Fifteen armed naval vessels against one small civilian boat carrying games for the children of Gaza. We must have disturbed very much the Navy and those who give orders to the Navy.
When they came aboard and we blocked their way, the soldiers knew exactly who I was. They shouted in Hebrew: 'Elhanan, you will pay for your Leftism!' and used the taser to give me electric shocks. Even after they completed their takeover of the boat, they continued to use the taser and administer more shocks. But if they think they could deter me and those who sailed with me, they are mistaken. The siege of Gaza is an ongoing crime and it must be ended. We will continue the struggle".
Elik Elhanan +972-2-5700112 or via Nurit Peled-Elhanan +972-547-578703
Adv. Gaby Lasky +972-54-4418988