Nanaimo man on humanitarian mission held by Israel

Conservative MP James Lunney said former Island MP Jim Manly shouldn't be surprised the voyage ended with incarceration.

The family of a Nanaimo resident currently being detained by Israeli officials is calling for his immediate release with the help of the Canadian government.

Jim Manly, a former two-term Vancouver Island NDP Member of Parliament (1980-1988), was aboard the marine vessel Estelle when it was boarded by Israeli officials in international waters near Egypt on Saturday (Oct. 20).

According to Paul Manly, Jim’s son, several people aboard the Estelle were carrying out a humanitarian mission to Gaza with aid supplies for the children of Gaza.

Paul Manly worries that the boarding of the Estelle was not as peaceful as Israel claims – he said he believes people were tasered and handcuffed and left in uncomfortable positions for hours – and that the event may have detrimental affects on his father’s health.

“He is still in Israeli jail,” said Paul Manly Monday morning. “We’re concerned about his health, he’s turning 80 next Monday, so he’s not a young guy anymore.”

Jim Manly, who lives with his wife Eva in Nanaimo, left from Vancouver Oct. 3 to join the Estelle in Italy Oct. 4. Others aboard the ship include members of parliament from Norway, Sweden, Greece and Spain.

Eva said she did receive a message on her cellphone late Monday morning from her husband, who said his treatment “was not bad” and that he had decided to remain in Israel with 17 shipmates to show solidarity for another member of the group who had reportedly been tasered by Israeli officials.

“Jim assured me he is well,” she said. “The interrogation was rough, but he felt he came through OK. Some people from the Estelle have left but those remaining have decided they will stay until Dror Feiler, from Sweden, who is being held for additional interrogation, can be released and leave with them.”

Paul Manly added that his father was aware the ship might be detained by Israeli officials.

The Manlys are asking the Canadian government to arrange his release.

“So far we haven’t been able to get in touch with either (Minister of Foreign Affairs) John Baird or Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office,” said Paul Manly.

Nanaimo-Alberni Conservative MP James Lunney, former chairman of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group, is on record calling the Estelle’s voyage “ill-advised”, a “foolhardy quest” and that violence against Israel via weapons smuggling in Gaza “makes the mission of the Estelle a farce”.

Lunney said the Israeli blockade of Gaza is legal under international law and that the 1.5 million Palestinians living there are trucked goods constantly from Israel.

“The government’s position is that those wishing to contribute goods to Gaza should do so through established channels and authorized efforts,” Lunney told the Bulletin. “It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Mr. Manly’s propaganda stunt ended up the way it did and now he’s crying out for consular assistance. He’ll be very well treated in Israel and, you know, a boat full of soccer balls probably won’t provide great humanitarian relief to people in Gaza.”

Last spring Jim and Eva Manly took part in a Pilgrimage of Solidarity to the Occupied Territory of the Palestinian West Bank.

Paul Manly said his father agreed to sail on the Estelle at the last moment when a spot on the ship opened up, adding his father was inspired to help the children of Gaza after spending time with his grandson prior to leaving for Italy.

“He said that this reinforced for him his conviction that all children have a right to grow up healthy and with the possibility of a future,” said Paul Manly.

As an MP representing Cowichan-Malahat-the Islands, a former B.C. coastal riding, Jim Manly served as the NDP’s critic for Indian Affairs, Fisheries and International Development.

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