Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced, Tuesday, that Israel will release and deport the 620 peace activists who were arrested after Israel’s violent raid on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla. Several of the detainees, all of whom signed voluntary deportation orders, were deported to their country of origin Tuesday. Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian-American activist, was beaten and left on the side of a road in Israel.18 lawyers met with 240 of the detained flotilla activists in Ela Prison in Be’er Sheva Tuesday.
Because of the Israeli government’s censure of communication with the detained activists, the exact number of those killed, and their names and nationalities, is still unknown. Estimates lists between nine and 19 activists are killed and as many as 60 injured Monday’s violent raid.
Ynet News reported that Netanyahu made the decision to release the activists after a meeting with his National Security Cabinet and consultations with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Justice Minister Yaakov Na’eman, and Interior Minister Eli Yishai.
The decision was made in the face of increasing international pressure and outrage against the deadly attack on the Flotilla.
The move was considered as an act of political damage control affected by the international outrage and condemnations.
Most of the will be deported via the Ben-Gurion Airport.
The Israeli Interior Ministry said that nearly 124 Arab detainees will be deported to Jordan. 45 other activists have already been deported.
According to Israeli media sources, the decision was not unanimous and some ministers said that Turkey should not be allowed to send its planes to transport the injured to Istanbul, while several other ministers argued that forcing the planes to return empty would cause further tension.
Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israel’s Minister of Internal Security, demanded that Israel not release any activists who ‘attacked Israeli soldiers’.
He said that Israel must imprison and prosecute 15% of the 620 detained Flotilla activists.
At his urging, the Israeli cabinet agreed to prosecute those who “appeared to attack the soldiers in the video footage.”
In related news, the White House expressed support for the UN Security Council resolution to conduct an investigation into the attack against the ship, and that this investigation should include international participation.
However, the United States did not issue any statement condemning the Israeli Army for the deadly attack.
According to a list published by the Israeli Interior Minister, the activists are from the following countries:
Australia, 3, Azerbaijan, 2, Ireland, 9, Indonesia, 12, Algeria, 28, Italy, 5, Ireland, 9, Bosnia, 1, United States, 11, Bulgaria, 2, Belgium, 5, Bahrain, 4, South Africa, 1, United Kingdom, 31, Holland, 2, Germany, 11, Yemen, 4, Macedonia, 3,Greece, 38, Kuwait, 15, Jordan, 30, Malaysia, 11, Mauritania, 3, Lebanon 3, Egypt, 3, Syria, 3, Morocco, 7, Norway, 3, Pakistan, 3, Kosovo, 1, Serbia, 1, New Zealand, 1, Pakistan, 3, Oman, 1, France 4, Sweden, 11, Canada, 1, Czech Republic, 4, Turkey, 380.
The bodies of the activists who were killed by the Israeli army are still at the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ynet reported. The bodies have not yet been identified.