[Boycott - Other News]
Eyewitness to Gaza Freedom Flotilla Massacre
4 June 2010
Many of the survivors of the flotilla massacre having finally arrived back home. Their eyewitness accounts expose the lies in Israeli government accounts of events which the media have largely accepted unchallenged. It clearly emerges that the Israeli navy started firing even before boarding the Mavi Marmara - they wanted a blood bath. Several of the eyewitness accounts are presented here.
"On Sunday night three Israeli frigates came within about half a mile of us. It was pitch black but we could see the lights on the ships and we realised that we were going to have a difficult night.
"Nothing happened until 4am (local time) when we heard quite a lot of speed boats coming towards us – they might have been into double figures.
"As soon as they started approaching tear gas was fired and sound bombs were dropped on the deck.
"No warning was given, we were in international waters about 100 miles away from the shore.
A helicopter arrived and started firing rubber bullets down on us, then a second helicopter came overhead and they started firing live bullets onto the deck. I personally witnessed four deaths in front of me, one was shot in the back of his head as he was running away. He fell two feet away from me..
"There were some hose pipes which were used to repel the soldiers as they landed and after 10-15 minutes they moved away. Then a helicopter arrived and started firing rubber bullets down on us.
"I was on the second deck at the back, so I had a view of the top deck and the sides as well.
"Two soldiers appeared, moved away, then a second helicopter came overhead and they started firing live bullets onto the deck.
"I personally witnessed four deaths in front of me, one was shot in the back of his head as he was running away.
"He fell two feet away from me so I had to drag him away from the firing, it was very traumatising and yes, I feared for my life.
"After a few minutes I took over the tannoy system and I said 'we surrender, please don't fire' and told people to put their hands on their knees to show they had no weapons.
"As I was doing that people were bringing the injured onto the floor in front of me. It felt like it carried on for a lifetime.
"At the end of the raid we counted 28 people had been shot and some were bleeding profusely.
"It all ended at about 10am and we were rounded up, told to sit down and plastic straps were tied around our wrists.
"We were kept in that position until Tuesday and that was the worst moment.
"People weren't allowed to eat, drink, and we didn't know what was going to happen to us because we thought we'd been kidnapped. That was the most frightening part because we didn't know if the world knew what had happened."
Paveen Yaqub, from Manchester, was on board the Mavi Marmara, on which nine people were killed when it was stormed by Israeli commandos on Monday.
She said she was later kicked and abused by two Israeli policemen.
"They were kicking my legs to make me fall and mocking me in Hebrew," she said. "They were trying to take trophy pictures with me and they liked laughing in my face.
"They also searched me but I won't go into that. They took pleasure in humiliating us."
Speaking at Istanbul Airport, where planes full of hundreds of deportees landed on Thursday morning, she said the experience had been "a nightmare".
"We were terrorized for the last few days by the Israeli authorities," she said, visibly shaken and holding back tears. "It was an insane situation. I'm exhausted. I haven't slept for days. I was on hunger strike for the last few hours."
Kicked and abused by two Israeli policemen - they took pleasure in humiliating us..
Ms Yaqub said that the Israeli authorities had tried to force her to sign a document written in Hebrew, but she refused.
Arriving at Istanbul's Ataturk airport with her one-year-old baby, Turkish activist Nilufer Cetin said Israeli troops opened fire before boarding the Turkish-flagged ferry Mavi Marmara, which was the scene of the worst clashes and all the fatalities. Israeli officials have said that the use of armed force began when its boarding party was attacked.
"It was extremely bad and very tough clashes took place. The Mavi Marmara is filled with blood," said Cetin, whose husband is the Mavi Marmara's chief engineer.
She told reporters that she and her child hid in the bathroom of their cabin during the confrontation. "The operation started immediately with firing. First it was warning shots, but when the Mavi Marmara wouldn't stop these warnings turned into an attack," she said.
"There were sound and smoke bombs and later they used gas bombs. Following the bombings they started to come on board from helicopters."
Israeli troops opened fire before boarding
Cetin is among a handful of Turkish activists to be released; more than 300 remain in Israeli custody. She said she agreed to extradition from Israel after she was warned that conditions in jail would be too harsh for her child.
"I am one of the first passengers to be sent home, just because I have baby. When we arrived at the Israeli port of Ashdod we were met by the Israeli interior and foreign ministry officials and police; there were no soldiers. They asked me only a few questions. But they took everything – cameras, laptops, cellphones, personal belongings including our clothes," she said.
While other activists from the Gaza aid flotilla have returned home, one is left facing death threats and abuse in Israel. Haneen Zuabi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset who was aboard the Mavi Marmara, is now under armed protection after nearly 500 people signed up to a Facebook page calling for her execution.
During a heated parliamentary session yesterday Zuabi was sworn at and then shoved out of the chamber amid shouts of "Go to Gaza, traitor".
The 41-year-old member of the Arab nationalist party Balad has also received death threats by phone and mail. "I am not scared," she said, speaking from her home town of Nazareth in northern Israel. "This is inherent here, it is not something that started yesterday. It is just harder and harsher now."
Zuabi faces growing hostility for taking part in the Gaza aid flotilla, amid a climate of rage at what has been portrayed in Israel as a premeditated attack upon its soldiers by armed activists aboard the boats.
"Israel wanted many deaths to terrorise us and to send a message that no future aid convoys should try to break the siege of Gaza," she told journalists this week.
Israel wanted many deaths to terrorise us and to send a message that no future aid convoys should try to break the siege of Gaza
Zuabi said that naval boats surrounded the Mavi Marmara and fired on it before soldiers abseiled aboard from a helicopter. She went below to the ship's hold and said that, within minutes, two dead passengers were brought inside, followed by two more who had been seriously wounded.
soldiers refused her requests for medical assistance for the injured passengers, who died shortly after.
Zuabi – known in Israel as an articulate Hebrew speaker – said that soldiers specifically asked her to translatetheir instructions. At first, she refused. "I shouted back, 'Why didn't you ask for my help before you murdered these people?'"
But she realised that such assistance could prevent further violence. "My fear was that miscommunication and panic could lead to more deaths," she said. "Everyone on the boat was terrified, screaming and crying and I felt a sense of responsibility towards them."
The Israel commando who murdered six unarmed passengers in the aid convoy is to be awarded a medal for valour by the State of Israel.
Obama's US government has just blocked two UN security council motions against Israel. It has blocked demands for an international inquiry into Israel's murderous assault on the flotilla carrying aid to Gaza that left at least nine activists dead. Further, the US has blocked criticism of Israel in the security council for Israels violation of international law in assaulting a ship in international waters.
Meanwhile Israel has announced that the Israel commando who in a shooting frenzy murdered six of the nine killed unarmed passengers in the aid convoy is to be awarded a medal for valour by the State of Israel!
Irish ship the Rachel Corrie carrying aid is less than 100 miles from Gaza and is due to arrive in Gaza at 6am BST UK time om Saturday (5 June).
National Demo Sat 5 June
National Demonstration is planned for Saturday in support of the Gaza Flotilla and to demand an end to the siege of Gaza.
Saturday 5 June
Assemble 1.30pm outside Downing Street
March to Israeli embassy
Speakers from the flotilla will address the crowds
Also Of Interest
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