‘Turkey treated us better than Israel,’ say Israeli sailors stranded at sea

In videos uploaded to social media, the men pleaded for help, as they said their supplies of food, water, and gas were running low.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Five Israelis were stranded aboard a boat in the Mediterranean Sea near Haifa for almost 24 hours due to Israel’s total closure of land, air, and maritime borders, Channel 12 News reported Monday.

After a three-day voyage from Turkey, the men were shocked to find that they were not allowed to come within 2.75 kilometers of Israel’s coastline. Because they didn’t have enough gas to sail to Greece or Cyprus, the group found themselves stuck at sea, frustratingly close to the Jewish State.

In videos uploaded to social media, the men pleaded for help, as they said their supplies of food, water, and gas were running low.

“We’re five Israelis, who grew up here, who just want to return to our home,” said Amit Levy, one of the men on the boat. “All of us have kids at home that we miss, and we miss home. And also, we’re running out of water.”

Levy said that he was surprised by harsh reception from Israeli officials, as the men had taken precautions before leaving Turkey. He also said that Turkish officials had been more helpful than Israeli officials in safeguarding the welfare of the men aboard the boat.

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“Before we left, we underwent coronavirus testing in Turkey and self-isolated [at a harbor in Turkey] in order to sail back to Israel. There, the border officials kept us at the dock, and made sure that we had water and food and electricity.

“Here, in our country, they don’t even let us get near the dock! [No] water, food, or anything.”

The men said that border officials were not communicative, giving evasive responses when asked about how long they could expect to be stranded at sea.

After inquiries from Channel 12 News, border officials permitted the men to dock in Haifa, nearly 24 hours after they’d approached the coast. The group was immediately taken to an isolation hotel for quarantine.

“We understand the situation and the period, but there are certain situations where …,” one of the Israelis told Channel 12 News.

“Where it’s not necessary to be this strict,” said another, finishing his shipmate’s sentence.

“This was too much.”