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April 21, 2016 11:18 am

IDF Rescues London Family Held at Gunpoint by Jordanian Navy During Vacation in Eilat

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Ellie Novack said she and her family were held at gunpoint by Jordanian soldiers off the coast of Israel. Photo: Facebook.

Ellie Novack said she and her family were held at gunpoint by Jordanian soldiers off the coast of Israel. Photo: Facebook.

A Jewish student from Britain recounted on social media the terror of being held at gunpoint by the Jordanian Navy on Sunday, before being rescued by Israeli soldiers.

“After coming to Israel more or less every year of my life I never thought that I would ever experience what me and my family went through today,” Ellie Novack, a fashion student at Leeds College of Art, posted on Facebook.

The London native said she and her family rented a boat in Eilat, a resort town in southern Israel, to enjoy some water sports. But they apparently sailed too far from shore.

“Without any warning we regretfully got too close to the Jordanian water and were held hostage by a group of 10 Jordanian soldiers,” she said. “Although a soldier is most definitely not the correct word to describe these animals by.”

Novack wrote that she was told to “shut up and spare your tears” by “a real life terrorist.”
“After being attached to their boat for over an hour, pleading, begging and trying to stay strong and holding back our tears, for a reason unknown they drove us back to Israeli waters where we were saved by the IDF,” she said.

An IDF spokeswoman confirmed that Novack’s family rented a boat and sailed along the coast of Eilat, according to The Jewish Chronicle, which originally reported on the story.

“Following a failure to adhere to the sailing laws of the area, the family left the maritime territory of Israel and entered into that of Jordan,” the spokesperson explained. “Shortly after, they were arrested by Jordanian security forces. In response to the incident, the IDF’s naval forces in the Red Sea immediately contacted Jordanian forces and within a half hour, the family was safely escorted by a navy vessel back to Israel.”

Novack described the experience as “truly unimaginable” and that she feels “truly blessed to be alive.”

“I can’t get my head around the fact [that] we are safe and sound back on Israeli land,” she said. “If this had gone any further, according to the UN, this could have started a war…It is heartbreaking that Israeli citizens go through these experiences everyday. This surreal experience has put everything into perspective and I am feeling so blessed and lucky to be alive. Me and my family are now safe and sound.”

Novack also had a suggestion to those traveling in the region.

“If you are ever in Eilat and rent a boat or any form of water sports stay close to the shore,” she said.

Israel and neighboring Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994, a historic move between an Arab country and the Jewish state. The treaty established diplomatic and economic relations, which last year became strained over the closing of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to Muslim worshipers for one day, following the assassination attempt against Yehuda Glick, an activist fighting for the right of Jews to pray at the holy site, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located. This caused Jordan to recall its ambassador for three months.

Tensions erupted again with the start of the current Palestinian terror wave, precipitated by claims that Jews were trying to take over the Temple Mount – something Israel has vehemently denied. Yet another point of contention between Amman and Jerusalem is the controversy surrounding the installation of security cameras near Al-Aqsa. Initially, Jordan announced it would have them placed on the site to help the Palestinians “monitor Israeli violations” there. But this week, Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur backtracked on this, following Palestinian objections to having the cameras installed.

According to the terms of the Israel-Jordan treaty, the Temple Mount remains under Jordanian custodianship.

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  • SteveHC

    The question here is NOT whether or not these British tourists strayed into Jordanian waters and had to be intercepted by Jordanian naval forces – of COURSE all of this was so… for all the Jordanians at first knew the boat might have been filled with terrorists and exolosives etc. – remember, Jordan has a problem with terrorists too. The question, rather, is how these tourists were treated once it was determined that they were simply British tourists who had inadvertently strayed too far.

    Happy Passover and a wonderful and safe Shabbos to all.

  • Reform School

    With twelve of fourteen comments invisible, I can only concur with ‘brenrod.’
    “Not a history major, my observations may be all wet.”
    Can you believe the naive audacity of Western diplomats to believe they could impose peace upon savages whose open bloodlust (like breathing, eating & making babies) predated their own “Enlightenment” by a thousand years.
    The Treaty of Versailles ending the First World War with the Allied nations defeating the Axis powers created a political bubble that took a hundred years and a Muslim American president to finally burst. Breaking up the 800-year Ottoman Empire into tribe-based nation-states, with a theopolitical belief system as alien to democracy as it is to infidelity, the Western democracies imposing it doomed the Jews (their future referee) to a quandary successive empires tried (and failed) to solve. The Gulf of Eilat divides more nations from each other than the North Pole. How cheeky of the hated Jews [and Jewish State] to referee ancient tribal rivalries of the Arabian Peninsula! Between Somali pirates, Palestinian terrorists, Palestinian nationalism within the minority Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the ever-present, under-reported (but normal) regional Islamic inter-tribal rivalries, the recent return of two Gulf of Eilat isles from Egypt to Saudi sovereignty [and military control], prudence suggests the Hashemite clan may be concerned enough about its future to flex some Royal Jordanian Navy muscle to reassert its authority.

  • Bob

    Entering any country without permission will get you in trouble. With everything going on in Sinai (ISIS and all) I don’t see that the response was unwarranted. They were escorted back after 1 hour safe and sound. You break the law, you face consequences, and in this case, it took 1 hour to validate who she says she is. Just put things in perspective…

    • Sandra Wosk

      Didn’t sound like they were going to be returned at all if you read the story.. It seems that only when the IDF interfered and called Jordan that they were brought home safely.. This wasn’t a trade or a safe delivery.. This was a terrorist faction giving back a hostage.. I see nothing nice about this story at all. There are NO markings in the water to say hey this is not Israel anymore and no matter how many times you are there if you haven’t been in the water before how would you know.. There should have been bouys to mark it.. I find your comment hurtful really.. Maybe you need to acknowledge these Jordanians are terrorists treaty or no treaty..

  • Wm. J. Levy

    Obviously the Arabs be they Jordanians or Syrians are never going to change and despite signed peace treaties still hate Jews and Israel.

    Living in Israel from the late 60’s to 1980 there was an incident on the Lebanese border when one of their troop carriers accidentally crossed into Israel. They were captured, given food and coffee and then released unharmed and happy.

    Not with Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and all the rest of those haters.

    • Edna


      these “poor victimized ” tourists should have known better. They behaved totally childishly and irresponsibly.

      The Jordanians behaved appropriately and should be thanked, as soon as the identity of these tourists was ascertained they were escorted to Israel by the Jordanians.

  • Howard

    In all due respect to the writer who had a rough time, I think what she wrote is a misrepresentation of the facts on the ground and in the waters between Eilat and Aqaba. There are excellent tourism relations between Israel and Jordan year around and for tens of thousands of tourists. Israeli divers often visit Jordanian waters.

    All this is covered by treaties and laws and is done respectfully.

    The Novack family obviously crossed into sovereign Jordanian waters illegally if by mistake and Jordan forces carried out their respnsibilies according to the treaty and protocol. Israeli Navy would not have acted differently if the circumstances were reversed.

    My suggestion is that tourists who don’t know the area or are experienced sailors should rely on the local professional services and not take risks and contribute to any unnecessary difficulties for Jordanian or Israeli forces. They have enough on their plates already in combating real terror threats !

  • Joe

    Mellow drama. Happens all the time. No need to call anyone “animals”. Israel has a peace treaty with Jordan, she was never endangered. This article is a non-story.

  • Carol

    Yes, it’s an insult to animals.

  • Lia

    The more people who know what the Israelis’ every day is like the better.

  • Gerd Kaluski

    On the one hand, Ellie Novack and her family took an unnecessary and stupid chance in taking their boat too far from the docks of Eilat where they incurred the risk of being stopped by Jordanian security forces. On the other hand the IDF naval forces were in a position to rescue Ellie Novack and her family. She can count herself lucky that she and her family survived this experience.

  • Avi

    I’m confused, they entered Jordanian waters and the “animals” did what every country does. The IDF did what is normally done under those circumstances and the Jordanians behaved appropriately.End of case. Why is this person trying to mischaracterize an incident in which her family was totally at fault. We have enough real incidents, this is embarrassing.

    • Edna

      I agree!!!

      This is a nothing story, and the title is misleading. The IDF did not save anyone. These silly tourists should thank the Jirdanians who acted properky, and escorted them to Israeli waters, after establishing WITH THE ISRAELI AUTHORITIES, that they were indeed who they said they were.

      But ifcorse, you will not publish my response….as usual

    • Bryna Weiss

      I agree, but this young woman probably was shaken by the experience and if the Jordanian sailors spoke harshly, she exaggerated the situation she was in. She should however, explain why she used the term aniamals. If their behavior was rough or agressive, I can understand it, but if she uses that term without basis, it is inappropriate.

  • Mayven

    The shortest distance between two points…’is not going.’

    Jordanians are edgy…and not kindred spirits. SUGGEST staying closer to land of milk honey and gefilte fish!

    Chag Sameach

  • brenrod

    a silly story, as she goes every year she must know that eilat is on the border of Jordan, that muslims and arabs are unpredictable crazies… too many naive folk on the earth. Why werent they more aware of the danger?

    • Brian B

      Don’t blame the victim in this case.

    • Reform School

      First off, thanks to the Algemeiner staff for making visble a dozen more comments to agree with, even before moderating mine.

      Having made careers in transportation, hospitality and showbiz, I can state without reservation that most people who go on vacation leave whatever brains they possess at home.

      As for the Novacks, some elevators don’t reach the top floor, while others barely clear the lobby.

      The Novacks should thank the Royal Jordanian Navy for protecting them. Naturally predisposed to neither women’s sensitivities nor infidels, it is a credit to their professionalism they did not take liberties with their prisoners, as Lara Logan learned some years ago. Had they returned to Israeli waters without their Jordanian escorts, their Jewish welcome might not have been as polite as their Muslim welcome. I have little doubt much of the hour with their Jordanian hosts was spent by Jordan arranging their orderly return without risking the IDF sinking the Novacks or their escorts. Have we forgotten the Mavi Marmara incident so soon?

  • Yaakov

    “Animal” is not the correct word to describe anyone by.

    • Dieter Mueller

      I fully agree. Animals would not behave in this way.

    • Markus Elkana Brajtman

      I would never refer to anybody, esp. terrorists as “animals’

      Animals kill for food. They do not have leaders who tell them to kill others so that they can destroy their enemy. I would not insult an animal, by calling IS or Hamas, animals
      They are savages.