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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2010 arrow June 3, 2010 Flotilla Survivor Speaks

June 3, 2010 Flotilla Survivor Speaks
June 3, 2010: British Survivor Gaza Flotilla: "Israelis ignored SOS calls"  UPDATE: June 4, 2010 Flotilla Journalist Report @ end

Thanks to D.W. for forwarding:


British survivor of Gaza flotilla raid: 'Israelis ignored SOS calls'


Sarah Colborne said pleas for aid were dismissed by the troops who fired live rounds at the activists and handcuffed medical staff

 

By Robert Booth

 

Thursday 3 June 2010 16.55 BST

 

 

The first British survivor of the assault on the Mavi Marmara Gaza aid ship to return to London has told of her terror as Israeli troops ignored SOS calls for medical aid and continued to fire live rounds at activists.

 

Sarah Colborne, director of campaigns and operations at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who was on board the Turkish ship when the Israeli navy mounted a raid early on Monday, gave a press conference in central London still wearing her grey prison fatigues from her spell in jail in Be'er Sheva, southern Israel. She described how she saw one man fatally wounded from a gun shot to the head and how passengers feared for their lives as Israeli troops trained laser sights on the activists through the ship's windows.

 

Colborne, 43, from London, insisted the activists on the boat were on a purely humanitarian mission and the passengers were aged between one and 89. She claimed:

 

• Unarmed activists were shot by Israelis using live ammunition;

 

• The death toll of nine is likely to rise, because some activists remain missing;

 

• The Israelis ignored calls over the Tannoy and on written signs calling for them stop firing and to evacuate the critically injured;

 

• The Israeli forces handcuffed members of the activists' medical team who were sent to help treat the injured.

 

Colborne said she was positioned on the deck when the assault was at its peak.

 

"It felt a bit surreal," she said. "I couldn't quite believe they were doing what they were doing.

 

"There was live ammunition flying around and I could hear the sounds of the bullets flying and the whirr of the helicopter blades as people were dropped down onto the roof. What I saw was guns being used by the Israelis on unarmed civilians. I saw a bullet wound in someone's head. It was very clear it was live ammunition."

 

She said the activists had set up a makeshift medical centre below deck on the previous evening, after Israeli naval vessels were detected on the ship's radar. They also donned lifejackets and some went to sleep.

 

"At around 4.10am I woke up, went up to the deck so I could see outside and I saw small dinghies bristling with guns and Israeli military speeding towards the ship," she said.

 

"Helicopters then appeared and gas and sound bombs were used ... We then had the first passenger fatally injured. He was brought to the back of the deck below. He was shot in the head.

 

"I saw him. He was in a very bad way and he subsequently died. There were bullets flying all over the place. We asked for the Israelis to stop the attacks. We asked this in English: 'We are not resisting, please help the injured.' Instead of helping the injured the saloon remained surrounded by soldiers targeting individuals with laser sights.

 

"The captain announced live ammunition was being used, to stop resisting and to go downstairs. At 5.15am we started broadcasting over the Tannoy for help to evacuate the critically injured and for emergency medical assistance. We asked the Israelis to stop the attacks in English."

 

She said she could "see the red of the laser sights sweeping over people's heads".

 

"The Israeli military were firing on us," she said. "We had no arms. We made two attempts to get the message across in the written form. We wrote a sign in Hebrew saying 'SOS! Need medical assistance. People are dying. Urgent.'"

 

After 7am, after the commandos had taken control of the boat, she said they handcuffed everyone using cable ties, confiscated their phones and told them to sit in lines on the deck in the sun for several hours, before being taken into the cabin after some complained of dehydration.

 

"It was terrifying," she said. "If you talked they pointed a gun at you."

 

She said they were then taken to the port of Ashdod where men and women were separated, before being bussed to prison at Be'er Sheva.

 

Asked if the trip had been worth it, she said: "We are hoping that the horrific deaths of the people will not be in vain. We are hoping this will act as a wake up call internationally ...

 

"We can't sit by and watch Israel violate international law every day. We want the British government to take action, ensure there is no future attacks on humanitarian aid convoys, to ensure there is a search carried out for those that remain missing, to ensure that those people who have been detained illegally will be released and most importantly to end the siege of Gaza."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/03/british-survivor-gaza-flotilla



Flotilla journalist recounts ordeal


Thu, 03 Jun 2010 05:07:06 GMT


A Press TV journalist detained on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla describes mistreatment of activists attacked on the aid convoy and his own ordeal in Israeli custody.

Still suffering from lack of sleep, Hassan Ghani explained how Israeli navy forces suddenly encircled the Turkish-flagged vessel he was traveling on and launched an attack on the aid Flotilla.

"We were some 90 miles off the Israeli coast and we were by no means within the so-called military exclusion area, which was originally 20 miles but later extended to 68 miles," Ghani told Press TV on Thursday.

He described measures taken by the campaigners onboard the ships for repelling the invaders, saying water hoses were used to drive back the Israelis.

Meanwhile, helicopters belonging to the Israeli army landed on the deck and a number of frigates approached the vessel from either side.

Ghani added that Israeli commandos, each armed with at least two weapons, landed on the ship eventually.

"They came down and we heard gunfire... at this stage we did not know if they were rubber bullets or live ammunition but we heard gunfire," he said, adding that the activists used any objects at hand, but mostly their bare hands, to defend themselves.

The soldiers tried to open fire, with their machine guns, when they faced resistance from activists who held them back, preventing them from approaching the cameras, which were broadcasting the course of events live from the main deck.

The Press TV correspondent added that the volunteers had successfully disarmed some of the soldiers, taking away their guns with their bare hands, when the Israeli side started using live bullets causing fatalities.

"A man was shot right in the head," Ghani said, explaining that the murder indicated the soldiers had enough time to aim and that the decision to shoot was not made on impulse or out of fear.

According to Ghani, the gunfire continued for quite some time even after the activists had raised their white flags of surrender.

Rejecting Israeli media reports about the alleged use of guns by the activists, Ghani said the only weapons carried by the volunteers were those seized from the Israeli soldiers. The guns were taken and their bullets were removed from the weapons and preserved to be used as evidence later, he explained.

Ghani and his companions were held under gun point and constant threats for some 12 hours in the ship, with their hands tied tight behind their backs. He said his hands were tied so tight that the blood circulation stopped in his right hand.

The soldiers took the entire luggage onboard and went through it all while forcing the activists to lie on the deck. The belongings of those on the ship were smashed and thrown all around, he said.

"We were treated like animals, we were told when to sit when to stand up," he recalled. "Nobody was allowed to stand up, nobody was allowed to go to the toilet," he said, adding that the Israeli forces would refuse permission until after the civilians had begged and pleaded several times.

"Then we were taken to the port of Ashdod, where we were all taken down. We were not allowed to take any sort of personal belongings."

Upon their arrival, the activists were forced to sign a statement in Hebrew which the volunteers did not understand. The international campaigners were interrogated and then sent to different Israeli prisons.

Prior to their departure, they were given another paper and were pressured to confirm that they agreed to being deported from Israel on charges of illegal entry — this is while the Israeli army had forcefully brought them in.

Those campaigners from countries which do not recognize Israel were bused away to Jordan while others were sent to Istanbul on Turkish airline planes.

Ghani said a number of volunteers refused to leave Israel and said they decided to file a complaint and defend their cases in an Israeli court.

However, their resistance was met with violence from the Israeli side and they were severely beaten and dragged to the bus to the airport, and eventually forced to get on the plane.

Throughout their detention, the activists were not allowed to contact a lawyer or call their families, in contrast to the Israeli prison law.

 

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=128860&sectionid=351020202



   
 
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