Gaza returnees share horror stories from Israel
Ali Buhamd, deported from Israel along with 18 other activists, was on the Mavi Marmara, a passenger ship in the flotilla that was attacked by Israeli naval forces in international waters on Monday. There are at least nine dead because of the attack according to Israeli officials, but witnesses, such as Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH) President Bülent Yıldırım, say more people were killed and their bodies dumped into the sea.
Buhamd said: “I saw a soldier shooting a wounded Turk in the head. There was another Turk asking for help, but he bled to death.”
Kevin Ovenden of Britain, who arrived in İstanbul on Thursday, said a man who had pointed a camera at the soldiers was shot directly through the forehead with live ammunition, with the exit wound blowing away the back of his skull.
Lawyer Mubarak Al Mutava, who was on the same ship, also shared the moments of horror the passengers of the humanitarian aid ship faced at the hands of Israeli attackers. “Israeli commandos opened fire at us. They killed many activists even before they got on board. I should assure you that not a single volunteer possessed any kind of firearm.”
A French activist on the ship, Youssef Ben Derbal, said: “It was really an effective attack. You should have been there. They had tiny boats in the middle of the night. Commandos with their masks and guns, helicopters and warships. They all came suddenly at the same time. We had orders from the start that there was going to be no provocation of the Israelis who got on the ship. And there was none.”
Yücel Köse, who was on the ship Gazze, said: “The Mavi Marmara was attacked right before our eyes. They threw in bombs, making the ship completely invisible. We heard that they threw injured people into the sea because they were angered that our friends held some of their soldiers.”
Yalçın Salel, who was aboard Gazze-1 said: “They kept pointing a gun at us the entire time. They were firing guns on the Mavi Marmara. We did not put up any resistance when they got on our ship. The soldiers clubbed me with rifle butts. My hand got stuck in the door and was badly injured. They did not meet our needs when we were under detention. We asked for water, they didn’t give any. We asked for food, they gave us a sandwich to mock us.”
Also on Thursday, a Greek plane carrying 35 activists from the Gaza-bound aid flotilla landed at a military airport near Athens. The military aircraft brought 31 Greeks, three French and one US national released by Israeli authorities, the air force said.
They were welcomed at Elefsina Airport by more than 100 relatives and supporters, who cheered and shouted pro-Palestinian slogans. Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Greek lawmakers were also at the airport.
Greeks on the ships have said commandos assaulted and electrocuted them during the attack, even though they put up no resistance. They also accuse the Israeli authorities of beating activists in custody, subjecting them to psychological torture and sleep deprivation.
Dimitris Yelalis said: “The commandos came aboard the ship all within a few seconds. We were beaten and tasered. They used anything you can think of against us.”
The US activist, Paul Larudee, 64, of California, said he was beaten. “I have no broken bones, which is better than most,” he said. “But there is not a spot of my body that is not sore.”
Larudee, who bore signs of bruising, said he was beaten after refusing to sign papers demanded by Israeli officials.