It is hard to figure out what FM Eide was thinking about, when he first warned Gaza sailors that they should take care to not attempt to break Israel’s legal blockade of Gaza, or risk facing the consequences, or, in his own words
Norwegian authorities issues a warning against breaking the Israeli naval blockade; this being connected to great danger”, Barth Eide tells VG.
Barth Eide points to the member of Storting himself being responsible over his actions; making it totally clear at the same time that the government is not behind this action.
On the contrary, he repeats the warning by his predecessor Jonas Gahr Støre, who has formerly established the “activists being in danger of being exploited by groups having other motives than those they intend to support”.
He also reminded the activists over the goods entering Gaza going to a “Hamas controlled economy”.
“I hold the opinion there is still a reason for issuing such a warning. This having been said, the expressed goal of this convoy, as far as I have understood it, is primarily to make a political manifestation; (and) not to bring goods into Gaza”, Barth Eide says.
“At present there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Goods are entering Gaza in sufficient amounts to cover the basic needs of the population”, he points out.
Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide (Labour) says Israeli soldiers boarding of the sailboat Estelle, heading to the Gaza Strip, was a bit over the top.
The Finnish sailboat Estelle, with four Norwegians on board, was on its way to the Gaza Strip, bringing footballs, books and medical equipment when it was boarded by Israeli soldiers on Saturday.
The boat was later the same day towed to the Israeli mainland by Israeli naval vessels. Nobody was reported injured in the take-over, which occurred in international waters.
– An inspection in itself would not be so problematic, but to arrest those on board and towing into this boat is massive over-reaction and far beyond what one can say is reasonable.
They hardly had anything illegal on board, Eide said.
MFA will help
Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the impression that the crew on board are treated in a good way. He said that the Foreign Ministry will provide consular assistance to the four Norwegian citizens currently detained by Israeli authorities.
– Such forays are risky, and we have advised Norwegians against taking part in such missions. Fortunately, it appears that this takeover has been peaceful, Eide said.
On their homepage write Ship to Gaza that the attack occurred in international waters.
Israeli authorities had already warned in advance that they will stop the fleet.
In a press release, the Israeli military said that the people who were on the ship will be detained by Israeli police and immigration authorities under the command of the Interior Ministry.
Previous attempts stopped
Israel has previously stopped most attempts to sail to the Gaza Strip.
In 2010, nine activists were killed and several sira love soldiers seriously wounded when Israelis boarded a international aid convoy.