Egypt Detains Israeli Tanker Said to Have Spilled Oil in Suez

The Egyptian authorities have since Oct. 21 detained an Israeli oil tanker with its 28 crew members and dependents aboard, for allegedly spilling oil in the Gulf of Suez.

The incident is being handled at the consular level with Egyptian police and legal authorities, according to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

Capt. Zvi Yosef, 41, master of the tanker Nyeta, was removed from the ship for interrogation eight days ago, and it is not known if he has been released.

He complained that the Egyptians treated him “very badly,” according to Uri Shtupler, marine superintendent for Tanker Services, the Israeli national tanker company that owns the Nyeta.

Shtupler said he spoke to Yosef by telephone Saturday and the captain told him he was “terrified.”

“He was locked up with criminals, he wasn’t allowed to shave for five days and he couldn’t talk with anyone,” Shtupler said.

He added, however, that Yosef said he was not physically abused.

The captain was supposed to return to his ship Saturday night, but Shtupler could not confirm that he had.

The vessel transports Egyptian oil from the Gulf of Suez. It accounts for about half of Israel’s monthly imports of 300,000 tons, which have now been seriously disrupted, according to Shtupler.

The Egyptian authorities charge that the ship was responsible for a 60-square-yard oil spill while passing through the Straits of Tiran on Oct. 17.

But inspectors from an international marine insurance company “found no trace of oil,” either in the straits or in the East Zeid Bay oil port, where the Nyeta was being held, Shtupler maintained.

The Israelis confined to the ship — 23 crew members, two wives of crew members and three children — are being treated well and are in contact with their families in Israel, Israeli officials said.

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