Despite claims by the Israeli Military that the the boarding of the Jewish Boat to Gaza, the Irene, was conducted in a non-violent manner and was without incident, those onboard the ship have come out disputing the honesty of these reports, following the release of the Israeli citizens participating in the event.The boat, a 10 foot catamaran, was attempting to break the siege placed upon Gaza by the Israeli Navy in 2007, and was organized by the U.K. based Jews For Justice For Palestine.
At 0937 GMT, on Tuesday, final contact was made with the ship by the sending organization, and shortly after the boat was boarded and towed the the Israeli port city of Ashdod.
The Israeli Military issued a statement claiming that the takeover of the vessel, approximately 20 miles off of the Gaza shoreline, and still in International Waters, had passed without incident.
Israeli daily Haaretz, however, have published an article having spoken to those released already from military custody expressly stating that the Israeli statement of events was a fabrication.
Former Israeli Air Force officer and pilot, and co-founder of Combatants For Peace, Yonatan Shapira, has stated that the passengers showed no violence towards the soldiers boarding the Irene yet were met, in turn, with violence. Shapira claims that the passengers were beaten and that he was attacked with a taser gun, a statement that was supported by Israel‚Äôs Channel 10 reporter, Eli Usharov; one of two journalists on the journey.
Shapira told Haaretz that the attempt to brake the siege was, ‘for the sake of a statement; that the siege on Gaza is a crime, that it’s immoral, un-Jewish, and we have a moral obligation to speak out.
He continued, ‚Äú[a]nyone who stays silent as this crime is being committed, is an accessory to a crime.’
Stern words were also expressed by Reuben Moscowitz. Mr. Moscowitz, and Israeli citizen and survivor of the Nazi Holocaust stated,
‘I, as a Holocaust survivor, cannot live with the fact that the State of Israel is imprisoning an entire people behind fences.‚ÄĚ
Moscowitz went on to compare the situation in Gaza to that which he had suffered through during the Holocaust and added, ‘[w]hat happened to me in the Holocaust wakes me up every night and I hope we don’t do the same thing to our neighbors.’
The non-Israeli members of the team, including citizens of the U.S., U.K., and Germany, are still being held in detention by the Israeli Immigration Police, also known as Oz, but have been granted access to their lawyer, following an initial delay.