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Israel Blames Observer Force for Detention of Its Tanker

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Israel is holding an international peacekeeping force responsible for Egypt’s detention of the Israeli tanker Nyuta and may sue for damages, Energy Ministry sources said Wednesday.

They said a suit might be filed against the Multinational Force and Observers once the Nyuta’s master, Capt. Zvi Yosef, is cleared of charges that his vessel spilled oil in the Gulf of Suez last month.

Israel will demand compensation of $17,000 a day for every day the ship was detained, the sources said.

The multinational force, stationed in Sinai and adjacent waters, has monitored the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty since it was signed in 1979.

According to the ministry, one of its patrol boats accused the Nyuta of spilling oil as it passed through the Straits of Tiran on Oct. 16.

The Egyptians arrested the vessel on Oct. 21. Capt. Yosef, who disputes the charge, went on trial in an Egyptian maritime court Tuesday, but the proceedings were postponed for a month.

Crew members of the Nyuta, which was regularly employed transporting Egyptian oil to Eilat, said there has been bad blood between the tanker and the multinational patrol boat, which is commanded by an Italian.

According to the Israelis, the patrol boat hails the Nyuta whenever it passes them, demanding that the tanker state its name, nationality and the nature of its cargo.

Israeli shipping circles said the Nyuta was expected to sail for home Thursday.

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