Flotilla passengers say Israeli navy tasered activist during raid
A ship that was seized by the Israeli navy after attempting to breach the siege on Gaza has arrived at the coastal Israeli city of Ashdod, just north of the Strip, Middle East Eye has learned.
The Israeli army released a statement in Hebrew saying that the Marianne, a boat from the self-styled Freedom Flotilla that the navy captured in the early morning hours, has arrived at the port.
Basil Ghattas, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset who was onboard the ship, told MEE that the Israeli navy "violently" took over the Marianne at 2am Palestine time.
Ghattas said the some of the activists used "passive resistence tactics" during the raid and that Swedish activist Charlie Andreasson was injured after a navy soldier used a taser on him.
This differed from the Israeli military's version of events. The Hebrew statement said that there had been no violence used by either the protesters or the soldiers.
"This is clearly pirate work," Ghattas said. "We were kidnapped for 24 hours."
He and former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki, who will be flown to Paris in the morning, were released immediately, Ghattas told MEE. The other activists on board were detained and will likely be held for a few days before being deported.
Ghattas said that the Israeli Knesset would attempt to carry out sanctions against him. "I suspect this will go on for a few months," he said. "They will attempt to take some privileges away from me ... perhaps remove me from a committee."
"But this was a calculated risk," Ghattas continued. "I did this to try to focus the media on the blockade [of Gaza], which is illegal."
The Israeli military's move to capture the ship was an "illegal action done by a state against the ship," he said. "Those responsible should be held accountable by international courts."
Those on board the ship will be transported by the military to the interior ministry, Israel's Channel 2 reported.
The Israeli military has closed off the port to the media.
Three other vessels in the flotilla headed back to their points of origin after the interception of the Marianne, according to reports.
Onboard the Marianne, in addition to Ghattas and Marzouki, were 15 other passengers, including Spanish member of European parliament Ana Miranda, plus the ship's captain.
The flotilla was carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which has been under siege by Israel since 2007.
Prior to the Israeli threat of intercepting the flotilla, Ghattas warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against "causing an international crisis," calling on the premier to allow for the safe passage of the passengers.
In a similar bid to break the blockade in 2010, a pre-dawn raid by Israeli commandos on the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara killed 10 Turkish activists.
Several attempts since have been thwarted, but without bloodshed. News of the latest boat being stopped by Israel was met by disappointment and anger from flotilla organisers in Gaza itself.