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Ann Wright

Col. Ann Wright (Ret.) resigned from the State Department on March 19, 2003 in protest of the invasion of Iraq

November 6th, 2011 4:06 PM

Israeli Hijacking of Gaza Freedom Waves Boats “Violent and Dangerous”

Activists Badly Treated by Israeli Authorities

A press release from Irish Ship to Gaza (www.irishshiptogaza.org) reported that National Coordinator Fintan Lane was able to make a phone call Sunday afternoon, November 6, 2011, from the Israeli prison in which he and 13 other Irish citizens are being held.

Israeli attack on freedom waves ships “violent and dangerous”

Lane told the Irish Ship to Gaza team in Dublin that “the takeover of the MV Saoirse was violent and dangerous. Despite very clear protests from the occupants of the two boats that they did not want to be taken to Israel, they were forcibly removed from the boats in a violent manner. The whole takeover took about three hours.”

Lane said Israeli forces hosed down the two boats with high pressure water hoses and pointed guns at the passengers through the windows. Lane himself was hosed down the stairs of the boat.

Israelis forced boats to collide and Saoirse almost caught fire

Lane said windows were smashed and the bridge of the boat nearly caught fire. The boats were corralled to such an extent that the two boats, the Saoirse and the Tahrir, collided with each other and were damaged, with most of the damage happening to the MV Saoirse.  The boats nearly sank. Lane said the method used in the takeover was “dangerous to human life.”

Lane added that “The Israeli forces initially wanted to leave the boats at sea, but the abductees demanded that they not be left to float at sea, for they would have been lost and possibly sunk.”

All belongings of the passengers and crew were taken from them and they still do not know if and what they will get back.  The 14 Irish citizens remain in Givon prison.

The phone call was very rushed and ended abruptly with Fintan saying, “I have to go.”

Account contradicts Israeli version of boats takeover

Claudia Saba, spokesperson for Irish Ship to Gaza, who received the call from Lane, said:

“The account received from Fintan Lane flatly contradicts the Israeli narrative that Israel ‘took every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of the activists on board the vessels’. It is a small miracle that no one was seriously injured during this obviously very violent boarding of the Freedom Waves boats.”

Irish Ship to Gaza spokesperson Laurence Davis added:

“This account confirms our fear that the hijacking of the boats was very violent, and explains the time lag between the point at which we lost contact with the boats on Wednesday at 11:12 am (Irish time) and news of the passengers’ arrival at Ashdod not before 5pm.”

The Canadian boat lawyers are today being denied access to the detainees by the prison authorities. We were informed by the Canadian land team: “They kicked the lawyers out at 5pm yesterday, after only three hours, and today they have not been responding to any calls (either on the main line or the cell number of one of the prison officials) to coordinate a visit or arrange phone contact with the detainees.”

Harsh Treatment of Captain of Canadian Boat

The Captain of the Canadian ship “Tahrir”, Greek citizen Giorgos Klontzas, has confirmed the use of violence on him by Israeli soldiers during his interrogation.  In an interview he gave to Greek TV upon his deportation from Israel and his return to Greece on Saturday, November 5, 2011 (www.Omniatv.com)
 
Captain Klontzas said that he was tightly handcuffed on hands and feet, which created a blood circulation problem.  He said that in order to fingerprint him,  he was held by three soldiers and with one soldier holding him in a position that strangled and almost suffocated him. Klontzas said that at one point one soldier stuck two of his fingers fingers into Klontzas’ eyes causing excruciating pain.
 
Klontzas said that he was very calm, did not speak aggressively to the soldiers and that he requested to see a lawyer.
 
He also confirmed that some other activists were very badly treated.
 
Canadian Passenger David Heap tasered during assault on the Tahrir

Canadian passenger David Heap communicated to the Canadian support team:
 
“I am in from cell 9, block 59 Givon Prison near Ramla in Occupied Palestine. Although I was tasered during the assault on the Tahrir, and bruised during forcible removal dockside (I am limping slightly as a result) I am basically ok. We, Ehab, Michael, Karen from Tahrir, as well as Karen, Kit (US) and Jihan who we saw briefly this morning. We are most concerned about our Tahrir shipmate, Palestinian Majd Kayyal from Haifa, last seen by us at Ashdod being photographed and put in a police car.*

Although Michael and I (among others) were transported in handcuffs and leg shackles, let me stress that we are neither criminals nor illegal immigrants but rather political prisoners of the apartheid state of Israel. Four from the Tahrir are imprisoned with 12 Irish comrades from the Saoirse, who have more experience with such issues. The four of us, Ehab and I (Cdn), Michael (Aus) and Hassan (UK) have joined with the Irish in their political prisoners' committee in order to press our collective demands:

association in the block - i.e. open cells
adequate writing and reading material
free communication with outside world - i.e. regular phone calls
information about shipmate women held at same prison.”

Demand for professional journalist status for Democracy Now journalist Jihan Hafiz

Heap also said “We add one Tahrir-specific demand: that Israeli state recognize the professional status of Democracy Now journalist Jihan Hafiz in accordance with her credentials from the US government. All political incarceration is unjust but let me stress that in duration and conditions, our situation pales in comparison to the plight of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners and to the open air prison of Gaza.”

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