MV Rachel Corrie 400 miles from Gaza, invites UN to inspect cargo
Speaking from Istanbul, Dr Fintan Lane, of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), spoke of his experiences on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which was attacked by Israeli forces on Monday and his time in Israeli detention. He said he was assaulted in custody, while three other Irish received severe beatings and one. Dr. Lane is due to return to Ireland tomorrow afternoon where he will address a press conference in the City Centre.
Meanwhile, the Irish ship the MV Rachel Corrie continues en route o Gaza and is currently 400 miles away and is expected to arrive on Saturday. Speaking from the aid carrying ship, Dennis Halliday said: “We want to emphasise that our aim is not provocation but getting our aid cargo into Gaza. We are calling on the UN to inspect the cargo and escort us into Gaza, and to send a UN representative to sail on board before they enter the exclusion zone. We all remain in good spirits, and we want to thank everyone all over the world for all their support.” The boat is traveling at approximately 210 miles a day, and is being captain by Eric Harcis, a Scottish man from Orkney.
Tthe IPSC with the support of ICTU has called a mass demonstration at 2pm on Saturday against the killings and in support of the Rachel Corrie.
Speaking from a hotel room in Istanbul, Dr Lane gave an update on the status of the Irish passengers who had been kidnapped by Israel on Monday. Dr Lane said: “I am currently in a hotel with Fiachra O Luian, both of us arrived here late last night. Fiachra was beaten up at the airport and has to go into hospital today for tests. Al Mahdi Al Harati suffered a diabetes related seizure on the plane and this, coming on top of a severe attack he received on board the Mavi Marmara, meant he had to be brought to hospital in Ankara last night.”
Dr Lane continued: “Ken O’Keefe, the Irish-American passenger, suffered a severe beating at the hands of security officials at Tel Aviv airport before boarding, and his injuries were so bad that he had to be hospitalised in Tel Aviv – the Israelis are claiming this delay in his repatriation is for ‘technical reasons’, yet another Israeli lie. Finally, a number of passengers are still unaccounted for, no one I’ve spoken to knows where these people are, it is very worrying.”
Dr Lane also spoke about the Israeli attack and hijacking of his ship, and his time is captivity. He said: “When they boarded our boat, we resisted entirely peacefully. I sat on the floor and tried to reason with them, but the Israeli commandos physically attacked us. Fiachra was dragged around the ground and I had a gun pointed in my face by a screaming commando. His mania was so intense that I genuinely feared for my life. Others received beatings.”
“When they finally took over our ship, and forced us to dock in Ashdod, we refused to disembark. We sat down, linked arms and said that we had been illegally kidnapped and brought against our will to Israel. We were all forcibly removed from the boat and brought to interrogation rooms in the port. At this point, I refused to hand over my passport, restating my position that I would not cooperate with my illegal detention and was under no obligation to do so. I was then physically assaulted, my arms were painfully twisted behind my back for prolonged periods and my passport taken.”
“We were then transferred to the prison in Be’er Shevva – though were told we were in Tel Aviv by our captors – and held incommunicado until it was announced that we were all to be deported. It was only at that time that we finally met with the Irish Ambassador.”
”In prison I was told about events on the Mavi Marmara, people being shot, left to bleed to death, beaten and bitten by dogs. By all accounts it sounded like it was hell on that boat.”
Dr Lane will arrive back in Ireland tomorrow afternoon – he will be on a plane from Istanbul that leaves at 10.45am (local time) and is scheduled to arrived in Dublin at 1.20pm. When he arrives back in Ireland, there will be a welcoming committee at the airport, and Dr Lane will address a press conference in the City Centre later tomorrow. Full details of this welcoming committee and press conference will be circulated in a further press release.
In Turkey today, thousands attended the funerals of the 9 confirmed dead passengers – all of whom are Turkish, expect one who was an American of Turkish origin. In other news, South African has just announced that it is recalling its Ambassador to Israel over the Flotilla killings.
Finally, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), with the support of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has called for a mass mobilisation in Dublin on Saturday to protest the killings, to support of the MV Rachel Corrie and to call for an end to the illegal three-year-old Israeli siege of Gaza. The event starts at 2pm at the Garden of Remembrance where a wreath will be laid in memory to the dead, and will be followed by a march to the Department of Foreign Affairs, where there will be speakers from the Freedom Flotilla, the IPSC, the ICTU and the Irish politicians.