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Home arrow Gaza arrow Emerging From An Israeli Prison, Freedom Flotilla Captain Accuses Canada’s Government Of Complicity
Emerging From An Israeli Prison, Freedom Flotilla Captain Accuses Canada’s Government Of Complicity PDF Print E-mail
Aug 14, 2018 at 12:00 AM

DIMITRI LASCARIS: This is Dmitri Lascaris, reporting for The Real News Network from Montreal, Canada.

For the past few months, The Real News has been covering the voyage of the Freedom Flotilla from Scandinavia to Gaza. Matters came to a head in late July when Al Awda, the lead vessel of the flotilla, was hijacked in international waters by Israel’s navy. Its passengers were then forced to enter Israel and were incarcerated there. The second vessel in the flotilla, the Freedom, was hijacked by Israel’s navy a few days later. Freedom was captained by Canadian human rights activist John Turnbull. The Real News spoke to John by satellite phone a few days before Israel’s seizure of the vessel. And last week, John was finally released from an Israeli prison after the seizure and was permitted to leave the country. He joins us today from Paris, France. Thanks very much for joining us, John.

JOHN TURNBULL: You’re very welcome, Dimitri. Good to be here.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: John, why don’t we start with the moment at which the vessel the Freedom was first contacted by Israeli forces, and then talk to us, please, about the seizure of the vessel. How did that unfold?

JOHN TURNBULL: Well, we are a sailboat, a fairly heavy, reasonably large sailboat, 72 feet long. We were waiting for nightfall, expecting to be contacted, and in fact hoping that they might let us go until sunrise the next day. But that was not to happen. Around 7:00 we received a VHF call. It was fairly standard call asking for identity. But when the questions got a little farther than our simple identity, which is convention, I objected. That I didn’t understand the nature of the call, or the intent behind it.

At that point, the Israeli navy read two statements- in fact, I think it might have been a recording of a statement- basically saying we were entering a military zone and our vessel could be confiscated. And then a few moments later there was a sort of second degree, but similar, message. We began at that point, and now it’s about 8:00, to notice lights surrounding us on all the cardinal and intermediate points of the compass. Those lights came closer. A little bit like seeing the eyes of wolves in the forest, if that’s happened to you.

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Women's Boat to Gaza Captured

Zaytouna-Oliva Women Deported
Details Emerge about the Capture

Messina, Italy:  All 13 of the women on the Women’s Boat to Gaza are currently in the process of deportation after being captured by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and detained in a prison at Ashdod. Wendy Goldsmith, a member of the land team working to secure the release of the women stated that, “the deportation was much quicker than in prior flotillas. While we had a great legal team assisting the women, we suspect that the reason for the quick release was because of all the negative media attention Israel has been receiving for its illegal interception.”

According to early reports from the women released, the Zaytouna-Oliva was surrounded by two warships along with four to five smaller naval boats. The IDF gave warning to the Zaytouna-Oliva to stop their course towards Gaza. When the warning was refused, at least 7 IDF members, both male and female, boarded the Zaytouna-Oliva and commandeered the sailboat. This happened in international waters.

In the course of their capture, the women persisted in telling the IDF that Israel’s interception of their boat was illegal and that they were being taken against their will to Israel. 

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