New Zealanders sent home from Israel after ‘failed’ flotilla mission

July 1, 2015 by Keren Cook
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Maori Television reporter Ruwani Perera has been ‘deported’ from Israel and sent back to New Zealand on a failed mission to Gaza while aboard the Marianne of Gothenburg.

Perera is due to arrive in New Zealand today with fellow media cameraman Jacob Bryant. Maori Television head of news and current affairs Maramena Roderick confirms that Perera and Bryant are both due back on the same flight.

En route to Gaza

En route to Gaza

Deportation  is hardly a surprising outcome for the Kiwis given the blockade of Gaza is legal.

The blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt was put in place in 2007 after Hamas came to power and started to attack Israel.

The UN-commissioned ‘(Sir Geoffrey) Palmer Report’ was commissioned after the 2010 flotilla incident and deemed the naval blockade by Israel to be a legitimate security measure to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and to protect the Israeli population.

The Palmer report says: “Israel has faced and continues to face a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. Rockets, missiles and mortar bombs have been launched from Gaza towards Israel since 2001. More than 5,000 were fired between 2005 and January 2009, when the naval blockade was imposed.

“Hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians live in the range of these attacks…. The purpose of these acts of violence, which have been repeatedly condemned by the international community, has been to do damage to the population of Israel. It seems obvious that stopping these violent acts was a necessary step for Israel to take in order to protect its people and to defend itself.”

Despite the fact that breaching the blockade is illegal, Perera and Bryant accepted an invitation by Kiaoragaza to “neutrally” document and observe the mission. They were alongside international media and pro-Palestinian activists whose mission was to breach the blockade on Gaza.

J-Wire tried to reach Kiaoragaza spokesperson Roger Fowler for comment on the deportment of the Kiwi media team. Fowler replied this morning with the following comment: “I’m a bit snowed under now. I will respond to your email asap.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) advised the reporters to heed the travel advisory and not attempt to break the blockade.

A spokesperson for the ministry said: “They should obey all instructions and directions issued by local authorities, including the Israeli Defence Force .”

MFAT would not comment on the reported deportations but say they are monitoring the situation.

In a statement to Al Jazeera, the Israeli army said it did not use force in redirecting the Marianne to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Speculations are presently rife that the Marianne’s capture mirror the 2010 flotilla events.

The Kiaoragaza website says: “We have no reason to believe that Marianne’s capture was “uneventful” because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012, the people on board the “Estelle” were badly tasered and beaten with clubs.

“Back in 2010, ten passengers of Mavi Marama were murdered by the IDF during a similar operation in international waters.”

However, there is no evidence that would suggest the speculations of Kiaoragaza are factually correct. Maori TV’s Roderick confirms the New Zealand embassy in Turkey was supporting the pair, saying “Foreign Affairs say their embassy staff in Ankara had informed them that both Ruwani and Jacob have been treated well and with respect by local authorities,”

It is understood that Perera’s phone is being temporarily retained for 3 days before being returned to the New Zealand Hon Consul, and her imminent return sees her arriving ‘safely’ with “quite a story to tell when she gets back”.

A spokesperson from the Israeli embassy in Wellington said: “Recent pronouncements and interviews concerning the Marianne ship have deliberately obscured some basic facts:

  1. Gaza is open to all humanitarian aid through the crossings from Israel.
  1. Every day about 550 truckloads of goods carrying everything from foodstuffs to vehicles pass into Gaza from Israel. 10 million USD are invested to upgrade the border crossings to permit passing of up to 1000 trucks per day.
  1. The only restrictions apply to weapons and a list of dual-use items which can be used to manufacture weapons and terrorist infrastructure
  1. Barring the entrance of boats and ships in the Gaza Strip is in accordance with international law.”








4 Responses to “New Zealanders sent home from Israel after ‘failed’ flotilla mission”
  1. Lindsay Jane THORPE says:


    Do you mean ‘deportation’?

  2. Dr Phillip Chalmers says:

    Disappointing that “investigative” journalist from NZ are getting up to the sort of mischief one expects of the Australian Broadcasting Service.

    The blockage is necessary and imposes no hardship of persons of good will. All previous effort to stop the importation of arms and other lethal weapons failed, no undertaking by those who call themselves Palestinians can be trusted nor should they be.

  3. Steve Lawrence says:

    Why do most media not report these facts? Why is it that we have to come to a Jewish paper in order to get some balance?
    Well done for an excellent article and not parroting Kiaoragaza’s reports like mnay others do.

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