Irish Ship to Gaza National Coordinator Fintan Lane was able to make a phone call this afternoon from the Israeli prison in which he and 13 other Irish citizens are being held. He communicated the following to the Irish Ship to Gaza team in Dublin:
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. It began with Israeli forces hosing down the boats with high pressure hoses and pointing guns at the passengers through the windows. I was hosed down the stairs of the boat. 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. The method used in the takeover was dangerous to human life. 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.”
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.”
In an interview he gave to www.Omniatv.com, Greek captain of the Tahrir Giorgos Klontzas has confirmed the use of violence on him by Israeli soldiers during his interrogation.
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.”
We also have reports that at least one of the Canadian boat participants was electrically tased and beaten. Canadian David Heap is now limping as a result.