Update, Oct. 23: Jim Manly has been released from Israeli jail and is on his way home to Canada.
Jim Manly, former Canadian MP (1980-88) and retired United Church Minister, continues to be detained in Israel with many of the other crew members of the Estelle, without any news about when he will be released. The Greek, Italian, Spanish and Israeli activists on board the Estelle have been freed.
Elik Elhanan, one of the Israelis released, said that excessive force and tasers were used against them and that a Greek MP was beaten by Shabak Security Service interrogators.
“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 Elhanan’s 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 an 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.
“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.”
“These testimonies increase our concern for Jim and continue to raise the question why aren’t the Canadian government and the opposition NDP doing more to secure his release?” said Eva Manly, Jim’s wife.