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Egypt Continuing to Detain Tanker, but Dependents Have Been Released

November 2, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel seems to be in a quandary over what to do about the continued detention of an Israeli tanker and its crew by Egyptian authorities.

The vessel Nyuta, with 28 crew members and dependents aboard, was arrested in Egyptian waters on Oct. 21 for allegedly spilling oil in the Gulf of Suez. Its master, Capt. Zvi Yosef, was taken into custody and reportedly faces trial.

Five of the crew members’ dependents — two women and three children — have been allowed to leave the ship, which is anchored in the East Zeid Bay oil port. They were taken Wednesday to the Israeli Embassy in Cairo to be returned home.

But conditions are deteriorating for the 23 crew members aboard the idled vessel, according to Israel Tanker Services, the ship’s owner, which is in contact with the tanker. The crew reported that drinking water is running out.

Deputy Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Wednesday that the government would consider abrogating its oil purchase agreements with Egypt if the ship and its crew are not immediately released to return to Israel.

He amended his statement later to say the oil contract would stay in effect, but that Israel Tanker Services might withdraw from the Egypt-Israel oil run.

The Israel Seamen’s Association minced no words. It informed the Israeli Embassy in Cairo that its members would bar all Egyptian vessels from Israeli ports unless the Nyuta is swiftly freed.

The Egyptians insist the crew will be held aboard until Capt. Yosef goes on trial, possibly next week. He will be charged with responsibility for a 60-square-yard oil spill while his ship was passing through the Straits of Tiran on Oct. 16.

Israel Tanker Services says it has evidence from port captains and insurance surveyors that the Nyuta was not the ship responsible.

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