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