Suit to be filed against Israel for wrongful detention of activists

Humanitarian aid vessel Al-Awda, with a Malaysian on board, has been seized by Israel on its way to Gaza to deliver medical aid. (File pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Humanitarian Care Malaysia (MyCare) has managed to reach out to remaining activists on the humanitarian aid vessel Al-Awda through Israeli lawyers.

MyCare CEO Kamarul Zaman Shaharul Anwar said the seizure of the Norwegian-flagged humanitarian aid vessel, trying to break the Gaza Strip blockage, had triggered legal actions which the Israeli lawyers will pursue.

“Some of the activists have also indicated their wish to pursue further legal proceedings as they deem the seizure and detention as being akin to kidnapping by the Israeli navy,” he said.

When asked about his last contact with the activists, Kamarul said he last spoke to them on Sunday.

“I spoke to Associate Professor Dr Mohd Afandi Salleh, the only Malaysian on board.

“He told me that the Israeli navy had in the last few days told them to turn back the vessel (Al-Awda). If it continued to go ahead, he told me the Israeli navy would take action against them.

“When the vessel was seized by the Israeli Navy, it was still in international waters, not in Israeli waters. The Israeli navy had no right to seize the vessel.”

He said the detention of the activists should not have happened.

“It is as if they are telling us that we have violated rules, but we did not.

“We have helped in such aid missions since 2008. So we are very sure of what we are doing.

“They have to date blocked road, air and sea traffic. That is why we wanted to challenge the blockade.

“We are carrying medical supplies. There is no reason for them to block the vessel,” Kamarul told FMT.

When asked what had triggered the Israeli navy’s seizure of the vessel, he said it was Israel’s stand to act against those who support or are trying to help Gaza. Israel is stopping any vessel trying to break its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

In the latest development, Kamarul said two more Al-Awda mission members had been freed.

They were Al-Jazeera reporters Merouane Metidji and Abdelmounim El Amrani and American activist Joe Meadors.

“Malaysia’s sole representative, Dr Afandi, is still being held at the Givon prison in Israel. We expect his release in a few days.

“The activists are in good health although they had injuries from the beatings by the navy personnel, but I heard from the Israeli lawyer, who has met them, that they are better now,” he said when met.

It was reported earlier that two other mission members had been released. They were the ship’s captain, Zohar Chamberlain Regev, and former Israeli air force captain Yonathan Shapira.

On July 22, Al-Awda together with two smaller vessels, Huriyyah and Falastine,  left the Messina port in Sicily.

The Al-Awda began its journey on May 22 from Copenhagen, Denmark, and had berthed at 28 ports on its journey to provide aid for the Palestinians in Gaza.

The ship was carrying medical supplies worth RM61,000.

Among those on board were Norwegian politician Mikkel Gruner, orthopaedic specialist from the United Kingdom Dr Ang Swee Chai and former Norwegian athlete Prof Gerd Von Der Lippe.