Two Norwegians held after Israel ship siege

Israeli authorities are holding two Norwegian citizens after their ship carrying aid to the Gaza Strip was boarded in international waters by the Israeli military.

Two Norwegians held after Israel ship siege
The Ship to Gaza trawler at the Israeli port of Ashdod. Photo: Ship to Gaza
The ship Marianne of Gothenberg was part the Freedom Flotilla III, a convoy of ships attempting to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, sent by the Ship to Gaza pressure group. 
Ship to Gaza has made several attempts, all of them unsuccessful, to break the blockade. An Israeli military raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in 2010 left ten Turkish activists dead. 
Marianne was boarded early on Monday morning 100 nautical miles off the Gaza coast by three Israeli military vessels.
Ship to Gaza have complained that as the ship was boarded in international waters, the action of the Israeli forces was illegal. 
The two Norwegians on board were the helmsman Herman Reksten and the Al-Jazeera journalist Ammar Al-Hamdan.
In an interview with Norway’s NRK broadcaster prior to Monday’s events, Reksten said that he expected the ship to be boarded by the Israeli armed forces.
He is a veteran of the freedom flotilla’s 2012 attempt to reach Gaza, when the ship Estelle was boarded. 
”We were allowed into Israeli waters before we were arrested for illegal entry,” he said. We expect the military to take strong action this time as well. Israel has said that they will not let us through. But solidarity with Gaza is more important for us.”
Both the Swedish and Norwegian governments have protested the boarding of Swedish flagged Marianne and the arrest of the activists and crew on board
”We are asking that the Norwegians are released immediately so that they can go home, “ Frode Overland Andersen from the Norwegian foreign ministry told NRK. “We hold Israeli authorities responsible for the treatment of our citizens.” 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has commended the action by the Israeli navy. 
“This flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting the Hamas terrorist organisation and ignores all of the horrors in our region,” Netanyahu said to Al-Jazeera.

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Watch: Norwegian rescue services evacuate crew from ship adrift at sea

A Dutch cargo ship was adrift in the Norwegian Sea on Tuesday after it was evacuated in dramatic fashion in rough seas, Norway's maritime authorities said.

Watch: Norwegian rescue services evacuate crew from ship adrift at sea
JRRC South Norway / AFP

The “Eemslift Hendrika” made a distress call Monday, reporting a heavy list after stormy weather displaced some of its cargo. 

The 12 crew members were evacuated in two stages later the same day by Norwegian rescue services: the first eight were airlifted from the deck of the cargo ship while the last four had to jump into the water.

Footage from the Norwegian authorities shows a man in an orange survival suit throwing himself into the rough sea off the stern of the ship.
The ship also suffered an engine failure and then began drifting towards to the Norwegian coastline.

On Tuesday morning it was about 130 kilometres (80 miles) northwest of the port city of Ålesund.

“The ship is drifting with a large list (between 40 and 50 degrees), so there is a risk that it will capsize,” Hans-Petter Mortensholm, head of the Norwegian Coastal Administration (Kystverket) told AFP.

“Our main priority is to try to stabilise it so that it does not sink, and so that it does not leak fuel oil into the sea,” he added.
The cargo ship contains 350 cubic metres of heavy fuel oil, 75 cubic metres of diesel and 10m3 of lubricating oil.

A Norwegian Coast Guard vessel was en route to the ship on Tuesday morning.

The operator of the vessel has also called in the Dutch company Smit Salvage, which was involved in the refloating of the Ever Given in the Suez Canal last week.

Weather conditions were “extremely bad” with waves of 10 to 15 metres, complicating the situation but a lull was expected in the afternoon, according to Kystverket.