Correction to This Article
This article incorrectly said that previous aid flotillas bound for the Gaza Strip "were permitted to reach Gaza or were diverted by the Israeli navy without problems." In December 2008, Israeli forces rammed a yacht carrying aid to Gaza and escorted the damaged boat to Lebanon; Israeli officials later said the collision was not intentional. In other instances, Israeli forces have detained and then deported passengers on aid boats.
Page 2 of 2   <      

Accounts, videos of flotilla assault continue to conflict

Video
Activists said Tuesday that Israeli commandos used live fire and beatings in their raid on ships trying to take humanitarian aid to Gaza. Despite the violence their leaders said another aid ship has already set sail for Gaza from Europe. (June 1)

"They had no knives, no axes, only sticks that they used to defend themselves," Paech said at a news conference in Berlin. He added, however, that he could "not rule out" that others used weapons somewhere else on the boat.

Arraf, 34, a dual American-Israeli citizen of Palestinian origin, had initially set out on the Marmara. When she boarded, she said, she was searched by Turkish security personnel aboard. She said she did not see any weapons on the ship. "I'm sure there were knives," Arraf said. "There were kitchens on every floor. You expect knives in order to feed that many people."

Arraf had switched boats Sunday, boarding the U.S.-flagged Challenger One. Hours later, she said, the Israeli navy contacted her boat by radio when it was about 100 miles off the Gaza coast, in international waters. She said the captain informed the Israeli navy that the passengers -- from the United States, Ireland, Great Britain and Australia -- were unarmed.

Arraf said she and her colleagues tried to block the soldiers from boarding the ship, then surrounded the doorway to the wheelhouse. The soldiers used tasers and concussion grenades and kicked the passengers aside, she said.

Peck, 80, was on a third ship, the Sfendoni. He said he was awakened by a "thump, thump, thump" of Israeli commandos in black ski masks boarding the vessel. "They were well-trained, they behaved reasonably well," he said. The soldiers scuffled with a few activists trying to bar their access to the wheelhouse, but there were no major injuries, Peck said.

He saw news reports about the killings only when he arrived in New Jersey early Tuesday, he said.

"It's unfortunate in just about every way imaginable," he said.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.


<       2

© 2010 The Washington Post Company