Last updated: 23 October, 2012

Israel to expel last pro-Palestinian flotilla activists

Israel will on Wednesday expel the last of 17 foreign activists arrested when the navy intercepted their ship during an attempt to breach Israel’s maritime blockade on Gaza, a spokeswoman said.

“The 17 detainees will be deported during the night between Tuesday and Wednesday depending on available seats on airlines,” said Sabine Hadad, spokeswoman for the Israeli immigration service.

Israeli troops on Saturday boarded the Finnish-flagged MV Estelle in international waters, ending the latest bid by activists to reach the Palestinian enclave by sea.

Among those taken into custody was 79-year-old Canadian former lawmaker Jim Manly, as well as Finnish nationals, Norwegians, Spaniards and Swedes. Five members of the European Parliament were also on board the ship.

A court in southern Israel on Monday freed from custody three Israeli citizens who accompanied the pro-Palestinian activists, according to their lawyer.

Nine foreign activists had already been expelled on Sunday — five Greeks, three Spaniards and an Italian — after they waived their right to appeal an Israeli judge’s decision to expel them.

Israel says its blockade of the Gaza Strip is necessary to prevent weapons from entering the coastal territory, which is run by the Islamist Hamas movement.