Israel’s High Court has ruled against the state’s case for confiscation of the Estelle, a Swedish ship that took part in a 2012 flotilla aimed at breaking the Gaza blockade.
The state had hoped that court-backed confiscations of vessels engaged in such actions would help deter them in the future.
Supreme Court President Miriam Naor rejected the claim for confiscation on the narrow ground that the state needed to declare its intention to confiscate a ship within at most weeks of seizure. Failure to do was a breach of international and Israeli administrative law.
The state attorney explained that the long delay — in August 2013, 10 months after the seizure — was due to diplomatic and security considerations. But the judges found that insufficient.
However, the ruling left open the possibility for consideration of confiscation claims in the future if filed within a reasonable time.
The Court ordered the state to pay 40,000 shekels to the owner of the Estelle to cover court costs. However, the Swedish organization “Ship to Gaza,” which sent the Estelle, said it will demand that Israeli authorities also pay for repairs to the ship, which was described as not seaworthy after the long anchorage in seawater in the Haifa port.