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Israeli Flotilla Activists Freed from Custody

Three Israelis who participated in an illegal flotilla attempt to breach the maritime blockade of Gaza have been placed under house arrest.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 10/22/2012, 6:30 PM

The Estelle
The Estelle
IDF Spokesman

Three Israelis who participated in an illegal flotilla attempt to breach the maritime blockade of Gaza have been freed from custody. The activists were set free in Be'er Sheva District Court on Monday and placed instead under house arrest.

A spokeswoman for the Population and Immigration Authority told the AFP news agency, however, that 19 others were still being held at Givon prison in Ramle, near Tel Aviv. The group, which includes 11 Swedish nationals, four Norwegians, two people from Finland, one Spanish national and a Canadian, are in custody pending a deportation hearing.

Eight others – an Italian, five Greeks and two others from Spain -- had waived their right to a hearing and left for home, the spokeswoman said on Sunday. She could not be reached Monday for an update, AFP reported.

The 30 people aboard the “Estelle” flotilla vessel included five parliamentarians from Europe.

Although organizers continue to insist to media that the vessel was carrying “a shipment of humanitarian aid” – and media dutifully reports that it was – Israeli officials who searched the boat found no humanitarian aid whatsoever.

Some of the activists have accused the IDF troops of tasering them when they boarded to take control of the vessel and redirect it to Ashdod port. The Israeli army has denied the allegation.

The blockade is intended to prevent terrorists from smuggling weapons and other ordnance into Gaza to be used in attacks on Israel. The region is controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization, which is responsible for most of the deadly rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israeli communities.

International media often ignores the murderous aspects of the ruling faction's activities and simply refers to Hamas as an “Islamist movement.”