Torture and Piracy on the High Seas – A Deterrent Against Future Freedom Flotillas to Gaza
Torture and Piracy on the High Seas – A Deterrent Against Future Freedom Flotillas to Gaza
to violence is symptomatic of the sick society that Zionism created
Brighton PSC was privileged when, at the beginning of June, we met
and hosted the crew of one of the flotilla’s ships, Freedom, when it docked in Brighton. It was a wrench when we had to say
goodbye after 3 days to these wonderful people.
Freedom had sailed from the Norwegian port of Bergen and we met it at
Shoreham. It was only here for 3 days
but we got to appreciate the kind of people who would put their lives on hold and
risk the hazards of Israel’s military in order to try and relieve the suffering
Although under no illusion as to what would happen when they tried to
deliver medicines to Gaza, the crew of Freedom
were determined to try and break Israel’s Nazi-style blockade of Gaza, a
blockade which is turning Gaza into an uninhabitable stretch of land, a place
where Israel lets in only enough food to keep people from actually starving and
restricts even such basic things as medicine, whilst pretending that Gaza is no
longer under occupation.
The Farewell Party for the Crew of the Freedom on the night before they left – Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown Lloyd Russell-Moyle joined us
The Freedom and before that Al-Awda were apprehended this week in
international waters. Their boarding was
completely illegal according to international law and was an act of
piracy. But since international law has
no enforcement mechanisms and the USA backs it to the hilt, Israel doesn’t pay
a blind bit of attention to it.
Disturbing reports soon came in of unprovoked violence against the crew
of Al Awda, including the use of tasers, against people who were completely defenceless,
unarmed and offering no resistance. They
were humanitarian workers, aiming to relieve the distress of those in Gaza.
Their only crime the delivery of medicines.
Israel was under no illusion as to what kind of cargo they were carrying
and made no effort to inspect the cargo.
The only point in boarding the ships was to enforce the starvation siege
The silence of our government is deafening. Whilst the Labour Party is engaged in a
nauseous bout of ‘anti-Semitism’ navel gazing in the real world real people are
suffering, but of course the ‘anti-Semitism’ nonsense in the Labour Party is
intended to protect Israel from criticism.
That is its only purpose.
Below are some accounts of the outrageous attack on the first ship Al
Awda. We await to see if Israel uses the
same violence on the crew of the second ship, Freedom. Unsurprisingly Israel
isn’t even bothering to go through any investigation into the allegations
I have also included the tape recording of the doctor with the group, Dr
Flotilla is Met by Israeli Piracy and Violence on the High Seas
See statement (below) re events a few days ago, when a ship Al Awda attempting
to break the siege of Gaza, carrying medical supplies etc, was violently
intercepted in international waters by Israeli warships. Hooded men took over
the ship, beat up and tasered (to unconsciousness) the captain and second mate,
assaulted other passengers, stole their phones and money (in most cases, not
returned), and diverted the ship to an Israeli port and all on board to prison
and later expulsion. This account is by Dr Swee Ang, consultant orthopaedic
surgeon at the Royal London Hospital. Swee is 5 foot tall at most and weighs
less than 40 kg. She is left with substantial bruising and possible fractured
And Israel can do all this with impunity!
Statement of Dr Swee Ang
Events from 29 July when the Israeli Navy stormed
the Freedom Flotilla al-Awda hijacked and diverted it from its intended course
to Gaza to Israel.
By Dr Swee Ang, medical doctor on board the al-Awda,
4 August 2018
leg of the journey of al-Awda (the boat of return) was scheduled to reach Gaza
on 29 July 2018. We were on target to reach Gaza that evening. There are 22 on
board including crew with USD 15,000 of antibiotics and bandages for Gaza. At
12.31 pm we received a missed call from a number beginning with +81… Mikkel
was steering the boat at that time. The phone rang again with the message that
we were trespassing into Israeli waters. Mikkel replied that we were in
International waters and had right of innocent passage according to maritime
laws. The accusation of trespassing was repeated again and again with Mikkel
repeating the message that we were sailing in international waters. This
carried on for about half an hour, while Awda was 42 nautical miles from the coast
the beginning of this last leg, we had spent 2 days learning non-violent
actions and had prepared ourselves in anticipation of Israeli invasion of our
boat. Vulnerable individuals especially those with medical conditions were to
sit at the rear of the top deck with their hands on the deck table. The leader
of this group was Gerd, a 75 year old elite Norwegian athlete and she had the
help of Lucia a Spanish nurse in her group.
who were to provide non-violent barrier to the Israelis coming on deck and
taking over the boat formed 3 rows – two rows of threes and the third row of 2
persons blocking the wheel house door to protect the wheel house for as long as
possible. There were runners between the wheel house and the rear of the deck.
The leader of the boat Zohar and I were at the two ends of the toilets corridor
where we looked out at the horizon and inform all of any sightings of armed
boats. I laughed at Zohar and said we are the Toilet Brigade, but I think Zohar
did not find it very funny. It was probably bad taste under the circumstances.
I also would be able to help as a runner and will have accessibility to all
parts of the deck in view of being the doctor on board.
The Freedom coming into Shoreham
Soon we saw
at least three large Israeli warships on the horizon with 5 or more speed boats
(zodiacs) zooming towards us. As the Zodiacs approached I saw that they carried
soldiers with machine guns and there was on board the boats large machine guns
mounted on a stand pointing at our boat. From my lookout point the first
Israeli soldier climbed on board to the cabin level and climbed up the boat
ladder to the top deck. His face was masked with a white cloth and following
him were many others, all masked. They were all armed with machine guns and
small cameras on their chests.
immediately made to the wheel house overcoming the first row by twisting the
arms of the participants, lifting Sarah up and throwing her away. Joergen the chef was large to be manhandled
so he was tasered before being lifted up. They attacked the second row by
picking on Emelia the Spanish nurse and removed her thus breaking the line.
They then approach the door of the wheel house and tasered Charlie the first
mate and Mike Treen who were obstructing their entry to the wheel house. Charlie
was beaten up as well. Mike did not give way with being tasered in his lower
limbs so he was tasered in his neck and face. Later on I saw bleeding on the
left side of Mike’s face. He was semi-conscious when I examined him.
Greeting the arrival of The Freedom in Brighton
into the wheel house by cutting the lock, forced the engine to be switched off
and took down the Palestine flag before taking down the Norwegian flag and
trampling on it.
cleared all people from the front half of the boat around the wheel house and
moved them by force and coercion, throwing them to the rear of the deck. All
were forced to sit on the floor at the back, except Gerd, Lucy and the
vulnerable people who were seated around the table on wooden benches around
her. Israeli soldiers then formed a line sealing off people from the back and
preventing them from coming to the front of the boat again.
entered the back of the deck we were all body searched and ordered to surrender
our mobile phones or else they will take it by force. This part of search and confiscation
was under the command of a woman soldier. Apart from mobile phones – medicines
and wallets were also removed. No one as of today (4 August 2018) got our
mobile phones back.
I went to
examine Mike and Charlie. Charlie had recovered consciousness and his wrists
were tied together with plastic cable ties. Mike was bleeding from the side of
his face, still not fully conscious. His hands were very tightly tied together
with cable ties and the circulation to his fingers was cut off and his fingers and
palm were beginning to swell. At this stage the entire people seated on the
floor shouted demanding that the cable ties be cut. It was about half an hour
later before the ties were finally cut off from both of them.
time Charlie the first mate received the Norwegian flag. He was visibly upset
telling all of us that the Norwegian flag had been trampled on. Charlie reacted
more to the trampling of the Norwegian flag than to his own being beaten and
soldiers then started asking for the captain of the boat. The boys then started
to reply that they were all the captain. Eventually the Israelis figured out
that Herman was the captain and demanded to take him to the wheel house. Herman
asked for someone to come with him, and I offered to do so. But as we
approached the wheel house, I was pushed away and Herman forced into the wheel
house on his own. Divina, the well known Swedish singer, had meanwhile broken
free from the back and went to the front to look through the window of the
wheel house. She started to shout and cry “Stop –stop they are beating Herman,
they are hurting him”. We could not see
what Divina saw, but knew that it was something very disturbing. Later on, when
Divina and I were sharing a prison cell, she told me they were throwing Herman
against the wall of the wheel house and punching his chest. Divina was forcibly
removed and her neck was twisted by the soldiers who took her back to the rear
of the deck.
pushed back to the rear of the boat again. After a while the boat engine
started. I was told later by Gerd who was able to hear Herman tell the story to
the Norwegian Consul in prison that the Israelis wanted Herman to start the
engine, and threatened to kill him if he would not do so. But what they did not
understand was that with this boat, once the engine stopped it can only be
restarted manually in the engine room in the cabin level below. Arne the
engineer refused to restart the engine, so the Israelis brought Herman down and
hit him in front of Arne making it clear that they will continue to hit Herman
if Arne would not start the engine. Arne is 70 years old, and when he saw
Herman’s face went ash colour, he gave in and started the engine manually. Gerd
broke into tears when she was narrating this part of the story. The Israelis
then took charge of the boat and drove it to Ashdod.
boat was on course, the Israeli soldiers brought Herman to the medical desk. I
looked at Herman and saw that he was in great pain, silent but conscious,
breathing spontaneously but shallow breathing. The Israeli Army doctor was
trying to persuade Herman to take some medicine for pain. Herman was refusing
the medicine. The Israeli doctor explained to me that what he was offering
Herman was not army medicine but his personal medicine. He gave me the medicine
from his hand so that I could check it. It was a small brown glass bottle and I
figured that it was some kind of liquid morphine preparation probably the equivalent
of oromorph or fentanyl. I asked Herman to take it and the doctor asked him to
take 12 drops after which Herman was carried off and slumped on a mattress at
the back of the deck. He was watched over by people around him and fell asleep.
From my station I saw he was breathing better.
settled I concentrated on Larry Commodore, the Native American leader and an
environmental activist. He had been voted Chief of his tribe twice. Larry has
labile asthma and with the stress all around my fear was that he might get a
nasty attack, and needed adrenaline injection. I was taking Larry through deep
breathing exercises. However Larry was not heading for an asthmatic attack, but
was engaging an Israeli who covered his face with a black cloth in conversation.
This man was obviously in charge.
I asked for
the Israeli man with black mask his name and he called himself Field Marshall
Ro…..Larry misheard him and jumped to conclusion that he called himself Field
Marshall Rommel and shouted how can he an Israeli take a Nazi name. Field
Marshall objected and introduced himself as Field Marshall ? Ronan. As I spelt
out Ronan he quickly corrected me that his name is Ronen, and he Field Marshall
Ronen was in charge.
soldiers all wore body cameras and were filming us all the time. A box of
sandwiches and pears were brought on deck for us. None of us took any of their
food as we had decided we do not accept Israeli hypocrisy and charity. Our chef
Joergen had already prepared high calorie high protein delicious brownie with
nuts and chocolate, wrapped up in tin foil to be consume when captured, as we
know it was going to be a long day and night. Joergen called it food for the
journey. Unfortunately when I needed it most, the Israelis took away my food
and threw it away. They just told me ”It is forbidden” I had nothing to eat for
24 hours, refusing Israeli Army food and had no food of my own.
sailed towards Israel we could see the coast of Gaza in total darkness. There
were 3 oil /gas rigs in the northern sea of Gaza. The brightly burning oil
flames contrasted with the total darkness the owners of the fuel were forced to
live in. Just off the shore of Gaza are the largest deposit of natural gas ever
discovered and the natural gas belonging to the Palestinians were already being
siphoned off by Israel.
approached Israel, Zohar our boat leader suggested that we should start saying
goodbye to each other. We were probably 2-3 hours from Ashdod. We thanked our
boat leader, our Captain, the crew, our dear chef, and encouraged each other
that we will continue to do all we can to free Gaza and also bring justice to
Palestine. Herman our Captain, who managed to sit up now, gave a most moving
talk and some of us were in tears.
that in Ashdod there will be the Israeli media and film crews. We will not
enter Ashdod as a people who had lost hope as we were taken captive. So we came
off the boat chanting “Free Free Palestine” all the way as we came off. Mike
Treen the union man had by then recovered from his heavy tasering and led the
chanting with his mega-voice and we filled the night sky of Israel with Free
Free Palestine as we approached. We did this the whole way down the boat into
directly into a closed military zone in Ashdod. It was a sealed off area with
many stations. It was specially prepared for the 22 of us. It began with a
security x-ray area. I did not realise they retained my money belt as I came
out of the x-ray station. The next station was strip search, and it was when I was
gathering up my belongings after being stripped when I realised my money belt
was no longer with me. I knew I had about a couple hundred Euros and they were
trying to steal it. I demanded its return and refused to leave the station
until it was produced. I was shouting for the first time. I was glad I did that
as some other people were parted from their cash. The journalist from Al
Jazeera Abdul had all his credit cards and USD 1,800 taken from him, as well as
his watch, satellite phone, his personal mobile, his ID. He thought his
possessions were kept with his passport but when he was released for
deportation he learnt bitterly that he only got his passport back. All cash and
valuables were never found. They simply vanished.
passed from station to station in this closed military zone, stripped searched
several times, possessions taken away until in the end all we had was the
clothes we were wearing with nothing else except a wrist band with a number on
it. All shoe laces were removed as well.
Some of us were given receipts for items taken away, but I had no receipts for
anything. We were photographed several times and saw two doctors. At this point
I learnt that Larry was pushed down the gangway and injured his foot and sent
off to Israeli hospital for check-up. His blood was on the floor.
I was cold
and hungry, wearing only one teeshirt and pants by the time they were through
with me. My food was taken away; water was taken away, all belongings including
reading glasses taken away. My bladder was about to explode but I am not
allowed to go to the toilet. In this state I was brought out to two vehicles –
Black Maria painted gray. On the ground next to it were a great heap of
ruqsacks and suit cases. I found mine and was horrified that they had broken
into my baggage and took almost everything from it – all clothes clean and
dirty, my camera, my second mobile, my books, my Bible, all the medicines I
brought for the participants and myself, my toiletries. The suitcase was
partially broken. My ruqsack was completely empty too. I got back two empty
cases except for two dirty large man size teeshirts which obviously belonged to
someone else. They also left my Freedom Flotilla teeshirt. I figured out that
they did not steal the Flotilla teeshirt as they thought no Israeli would want
to wear that teeshirt in Israel. They had not met Zohar and Yonatan who were
proudly wearing theirs. That was a shock as I was not expecting the Israeli
Army to be petty thieves as well. So what had become the glorious Israeli Army
of the Six Day War which the world so admired?
I was still
not allowed to go to the toilet, but was pushed into the Maria van, joined by
Lucia the Spanish nurse and after some wait taken to Givon Prison. I could feel
myself shivering uncontrollably on the journey.
thing our guards did in Givon Prison was to order me to go to the toilet to
relieve myself. It was interesting to see that they knew I needed to go
desperately but had prevented me for hours to! By the time we were re-x-rayed
and searched again it must be about 5 – 6 am. Lucia and I were then put in a
cell where Gerd, Divina, Sarah and Emelia were already asleep. There were three
double decker bunk beds – all rusty and dusty.
not get the proper dose of her medicines; Lucia was refused her own medicine
and given an Israeli substitute which she refused to take. Divina and Emelia
went straight on to hunger strike. The jailors were very hostile using simple
things like refusal of toilet paper and constant slamming of the prison iron
door, keeping the light of the cell permanently on, and forcing us to drink
rusty water from the tap, screaming and shouting at us constantly to vent their
anger at us.
addressed me as “China” and treated me with utter contempt. On the morning of
30 July 2018, the British Vice Consul visited me. Some kind person had called
them about my whereabouts. That was a blessing as after that I was called
“England” and there was a massive improvement in the way England was treated
compared to the way China was treated. It crossed my mind that “Palestine”
would be trampled over, and probably killed.
31 July 2018, we heard Larry yelling from the men’s cell across the corridor
that he needed a doctor. He was obviously in great pain and crying. We women
responded by asking the wardens to allow me to go across to see Larry as I
might be able to help. We shouted “We have a doctor” and used our metal spoons
to hit the iron cell gate get their attention. They lied and said their doctor
will be over in an hour. We did not believe them and started again. The doctor
actually turned up at 4 pm, about 10 hours later and Larry was sent straight to
to punish the women for supporting Larry’s demand, they brought hand cuffs for
Sarah and took Divina and me to another cell to separate us from the rest. We
were told we were not going to be allowed out for our 30 minutes fresh air
break and a drink of clean water in the yard. I heard Gerd saying “Big deal”
Divina was taken out with me to the courtyard and Divina given 4 cigarettes at
which point she broke down and cried. Divina had worked long hours at the wheel
house steering the boat. She had seen what happened to Herman. The prison had
refused to give her one of her medicines and given her only half the dose of
the other. She was still on hunger strike to protest our kidnapping in
international waters. It was heart-breaking to see Divina cry. One of the
wardens who called himself Michael started talking to us about how he will have
to protect his family against those who want to drive the Israelis out. And how
the Palestinians did not want to live in peace…and it was not Israel’s fault.
But things suddenly changed with the arrival of an Israeli Judge and we were
all treated with some decency even though he only saw a few of us personally.
His job was to tell us that a Tribunal will be convened the following day and
each prisoner had been allocated a time to appear, and we must have our lawyer
with us when we appear.
the end of the day became very giddy and very unwell so I persuaded her to come
out of hunger strike, and also she agreed to sign a deportation order. Shortly
after that possibly at 6 pm since we had no watches and mobile phones, we were
told Lucia, Joergen, Herman, Arne, Abdul from Al Jazeera and I would be
deported within 24 hours and we would be taken to be imprisoned in the
deportation prison in Ramle near Ben Gurion airport immediately to wait there.
It was going to be the same Ramle Prison from which I was deported in 2014. I
saw the same five strong old palm trees still standing up proud and tall. They
are the only survivors of the Palestinian village destroyed in 1948.
arrived at Ramle prison Abdul found to his horror that he his money, his credit
cards, his watch, his satellite phone, his own mobile phone, his ID card were all missing – he was entirely
destitute. We had a whip round and raised around a hundred Euros as a
contribution towards his taxi fare from the airport to home. How can the Israeli
Army be so corrupt and heartless to rob someone of everything?
We, the six
women on board al-Awda had learnt that they tried to completely humiliate and
dehumanise us in every way possible. We were also shocked at the behaviour of
the Israeli Army especially petty theft and their treatment of international
women prisoners. Men jailors regularly entered the women’s cell without giving
us decent notice to put our clothes on.
tried to remind us of our vulnerability at every stage. We know they would have
preferred to kill us but of course the publicity incurred in so doing might be
unfavourable to the international image of Israel.
As to international waters, it looks as though there is no
such thing for the Israeli Navy. They can hijack and abduct boats and persons
in international water and get away with it. They acted as though they own the
Mediterranean Sea. They can abduct any boat and kidnap any passengers, put them
in prison and criminalise them.
If we were
Palestinians it would be much worse with physical assaults and probably loss of
lives. The situation is therefore dire for the Palestinians.
international waters, it looks as though there is no such thing for the Israeli
Navy. They can hijack and abduct boats and persons in international water and
get away with it. They acted as though they own the Mediterranean Sea. They can
abduct any boat and kidnap any passengers, put them in prison and criminalise
accept this. We have to speak up, stand up against this lawlessness, oppression
and brutality. We were completely unarmed. Our only crime according to them is
we are friends of the Palestinians and wanted to bring medical aid to them. We
wanted to brave the military blockade to do this. This is not a crime. In the
week we were sailing to Gaza, they had shot dead 7 Palestinians and wounded
more than 90 with life bullets in Gaza. They had further shut down fuel and
food to Gaza. Two million Palestinians in Gaza live without clean water, with
only 2-4 hours of electricity, in homes destroyed by Israeli bombs, in a prison
blockaded by land, air and sea for 12 years. The hospitals of Gaza since the 30
March had treated more than 9,071 wounded persons, 4,348 shot by machine guns
from a hundred Israeli snipers while they were mounting peaceful demonstrations
inside the borders of Gaza on their own land. Most of the gun-shot wounds were
to the lower limbs and with depleted treatment facilities the limbs will suffer
amputation. In this period more than 165 Palestinians had been shot dead by the
same snipers, including medics and journalists, children and women. The chronic
military blockade of Gaza has depleted the hospitals of all surgical and
medical supplies. This massive attack on an unarmed Freedom Flotilla bringing
friends and some medical relief is an attempt to crush all hope for Gaza. As I
write I learnt that our sister Flotilla, Freedom, has also been kidnapped by
the Israeli Navy while in international waters.
BUT we will
not stop, we must continue to be strong to bring hope and justice to the
Palestinians and be prepared to pay the price, and to be worthy of the
Palestinians. As long as I survive I will exist to resist. To do less will be a crime.
IMMEDIATE RELEASE 4 August, 2018 00:05am CEST
(CEST) we lost contact with the yacht Freedom, sailing under a Swedish
flag, which is on a mission to break the illegal Israeli blockade of the
Palestinian people of Gaza. James Godfrey, a spokesperson for the Freedom
Flotilla Coalition, said: “We have reason
to presume that the Israeli Occupation Forces has now begun to attack it and
that it has been surrounded in International Waters. The latest reported
position was approximately 40 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza. Based on
what happened on
Sunday, we anticipate that the
Israeli Occupation Forces has now cut all communications with Freedom, so it can begin an
Freedom is a gift
for the Palestinian fishers of Gaza and is carrying a cargo
of medical supplies , including #Gauze4Gaza. On board are 10 participants
and two journalists from five countries. Details of all of the participants are
here. The last news that we had from Freedom was that she was
maintaining her course towards Gaza and the ‘conscience of humanity’.
Godfrey, a spokesperson for the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, said: “The Israeli Occupation Forces claims that
our civilian boats – including our 100% wind-powered boat – are breaking
international law and threatens that they will use ‘any measures necessary’ to
stop us. We assert the right of ‘innocent passage’ guaranteed under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 and call upon international authorities to protect our
small yacht. The only ‘necessary measures’ are to end the illegal blockade of
Gaza and to restore freedom of movement for all Palestinians.”
Sunday, the Israeli Occupation Forces cut all communications and then violently
attacked our lead boat (‘Al Awda) in international waters, pulled down
its Norwegian flag and trampled upon it. According to many testimonies that we
have, including Yonatan Shapira, a former Israeli Air Force
officer who was a participant aboard ‘Al Awda’, they then beat up
and tasered several people and stole most of the participants’ property.
left Scandinavia in mid-May and have since stopped in 28 ports building support
for a ‘Just Future for Palestine’. We demand that Israel ends its ongoing
breaches of international law, including the collective
punishment of a twelve-year blockade of Gaza, thereby enabling the only
closed port in the Mediterranean to open and that people have their universal
right to freedom of movement.
“The Freedom Flotilla Coalition calls on the
Swedish Government, the national governments of those aboard Freedom, other
national governments, and relevant international organizations to act
immediately.” said Dror Feiler of Ship to Gaza Sweden, part of the Freedom
Flotilla Coalition. “We demand that the
Israeli Occupation Forces not interfere with our unarmed yacht, as we continue
our voyage to Gaza to deliver our gift of much-needed medical supplies”.
information about the ‘Right to a Just Future for Palestine’ flotilla and the
FFC: Web: https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FreedomFlotillaCoalition Twitter: @gazafflotilla
an interview or for more information, contact: jfp.freedomflotilla.org/media-room-2