WITNESSES of the FREEDOM FLOTILLA

The book can be purchased online at http://www.kitapyurdu.com/kitap/default.asp?id=593900&changeCurrency=6

WITNESSES of the FREEDOM FLOTILLA

-Interviews with Passengers-
Zahide Tuba Kor
IHH Kitap: Istanbul, August 2011
352 pages

The profit of this book will be donated to the people of Gaza as humanitarian relief

ISBN 978-605-62205-4-8

First Edition: August 2011

Copyright © İHH Kitap, 2011

Address: Büyük Karaman Cad. Taylasan Sok. No: 3 Fatih-İstanbul

Telephone: +90 212 631 21 21   Fax: +90 212 621 70 51

Web: www.ihh.org.tr    e-mail: info@ihh.org.tr

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.

 Cover Design Salih Pulcu

Cover Design Application Erol Polat

Book Design Ayşenur Gönen

Printing/Binding Mavi Ofset

Click the link below to read “INTRODUCTION” that includes a detailed story of this book, and also a summary of the interviews

INTRODUCTION

Click the link below to read “Foreword” of the President of the IHH, Bülent Yıldırım

FOREWORD


INGE HOEGER: “The brutal attack of Israel on the Freedom Flotilla has no predecessor in current history”

Inge Hoeger — German, politician and member of the Bundestag

(The responses were received from Germany on 15 April 2011 via e-mail)

“International solidarity became something very real and concrete during the days on the Flotilla. Israel’s ruthless reaction proved the point: International solidarity is a weapon of justice, and the Israeli oppressors understood it that very way.”

“The murderers of the activists and the ones in the higher ranks of the Israeli military should be brought to justice. However, Israel has nothing to fear anymore, since all the Western governments have once again forgotten all the crimes it has committed and is still committing every day.”

“The government of Israel should reconsider and withdraw from its oppressive positions against the Palestinians and the international solidarity movement, and take the international code of law seriously, instead of abusing it by misinterpretation to justify its actions.”

 
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INGE HOEGER

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SHEIKH RAED SALAH: “The Freedom Flotilla is the first step of liberating the entire Palestinian land”

Sheikh Raed Salah — Palestinian, leader of the Islamic Movement in Palestine’48
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 18 March 2011)      
                          

“The conscience of international public opinion has already passed the test with success, but the official international conscience is still being tested. We are following carefully whether, this time, the official institutions will be on the side of humanity, or submit to the pressure of international Zionism.”

“If it had not been for Mr. Erdoğan’s brave stance, we would still be in prison. We probably would be sentenced for at least 10 to 20 years. However, thanks to the Turkish government’s stance, the Israeli authorities had to release us within the first 48 hours of our arrest.”

“Thanks to Israel’s arrogant and foolish behaviour, the message of the Mavi Marmara reached not only Gaza, but the entire world. All the conscientious people in the world heed this call. It has become one of the major causes of the Arab peoples’ revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.”

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SHEIKH RAED SALAH

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


OSAMA QASHOO: “It is sad, nothing has changed; I experienced on the Mavi Marmara what my father had experienced twenty years ago in Palestine”

Osama Qashoo — Palestinian living in the United Kingdom, award-winning documentary filmmaker and peace activist
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 26 December 2010)

Mavi Marmara is what Turkey means to me. Every time I hear a Turkish word, it takes me back to Palestine. So when I saw the Mavi Marmara today, I felt as if I had gone to Palestine again.”

“Seeing the injustices of what my people go through is enough to give me a motivation, since I lived most of my life in Palestine encountering injustices. I was arrested 27 times and was shot 6 times. Also I know the feeling of loneliness of what Gazans suffer from now. Being completely cut off from the world is the worst in this situation.”

“I was dragged onto the upper deck where I was beaten by several soldiers. They blindfolded me by putting a plastic bag and a jumper over my head; I was nearly suffocating. I was handcuffed very tightly for more than 36 hours so that my hands felt completely numb.”

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OSAMA QASHOO

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


HASSAN GHANI: “Israel has lost any sense of morality and become Goliath”

Hassan Ghani — Scot of Pakistani origin, correspondent of PressTV
(The responses were received from Scotland on 12 February 2011 via e-mail)

“Personally I have little faith in any legal procedures. I can’t imagine Israel ever bringing its own soldiers to justice for their crimes since they are considered heroes in Israel. As a journalist, the only thing I want is my footage of what happened that night, but even this is wishful thinking.”

“I was kicked and punched while being searched, and my hands were tied together so tight that I lost blood circulation for some time. Seeing hundreds of people kneeling on the floor with hands tied behind reminded me of a concentration camp.”

“I was made to sit down next to a young man who had been shot in the legs and in the back. The wound in his leg was from a live bullet while the blood still dripping out of his back was from rubber bullets. The soldiers ignored him and the pain he was in, and left him on the floor with his hands tied.”

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HASSAN GHANI

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


IARA LEE: “Creative and nonviolent actions are the most effective way of creating change”

Iara Lee — Brazilian of Korean descent living in the United States, documentary filmmaker and peace activist
(The responses were received from Bahrain on 7 March 2011 via e-mail)

“Seeing dead bodies that had been shot from close range was horrific. Nearly as awful were the subsequent arguments that blamed the unarmed passengers for the deaths of 9 fellow activists. Nevertheless, the Mavi Marmara for me will always be a symbol of effective nonviolent resistance.”

“Israelis run by murderous, intractable and illegal leaders. We must implement international law so that no governor feels entitled to be above the law, like Israel does and gets away with it.”

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IARA LEE

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


AYŞE SARIOĞLU: “The Mavi Marmara incident is a historic turning point”

Ayşe Sarıoğlu — Turkish citizen, reporter of a Turkish daily, Taraf, and M.A. student
(The responses were received from Istanbul, Turkey, on 1 May 2011 via e-mail)

“The kindergarten teachers pointed us out to the children saying, ‘Look, these are terrorists!’ How can the Israeli-Palestinian peace be maintained when the hearts of the children are full of such hatred and fear? Israelis threatening its own security and even existence by poisoning its children with such feelings.”

“They handcuffed the wounded on stretchers that could not even raise their fingers. İbrahim Bilgen who was wounded from his abdomen could have been saved if treated earlier. He was kept waiting for hours while bleeding heavily. His stretcher was carried by soldiers horrendously.”

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AYSE SARIOGLU

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DAVID SEGARRA: “War and occupation does not only kill the bodies of the oppressed but also the soul of the oppressor”

David Segarra — Spanish living in Venezuela, director of documentary films
(The responses were received from Venezuela on 10 March 2011 via e-mail)

“All what we experienced was like a dream, like a nightmare. Some of us would never wake up from that dream… Everybody did what they had to do onboard the ship. Nobody panicked, but everybody helped each other keeping our own humanity and dignity well alive.”

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DAVID SEGARRA

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


MANUEL ESPINAR TAPIAL: “The Freedom Flotilla opened the eyes of millions”

Manuel Espinar Tapial — Spanish, freelance journalist and activist, coordinator of Rumbo a Gaza
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 26 December 2010)

“We saw around 300 people all down on their knees, heads looking down to the floor, and hands tied behind their backs. All of them were Muslims. We, as Europeans, weren’t tied, were seated on the benches, and treated in a different way. I will never forget the racism of the Israeli army.”

“We received thousands of e-mails and messages on facebook from the people supporting us. We wouldn’t have expected such a positive reaction. The Spanish people supported us very actively, but the Spanish government acted just like an ally of Israel.”

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MANUEL TAPIAL-LAURA ARUA

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


LAURA ARAU CRUSELLAS: “Seeing how the Muslim men were made to kneel was really hard to accept; we are all equal”

Laura Arau Crusellas — Spanish, freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 26 December 2010)

“Is going somewhere to help people with humanitarian aid an act of terrorism? Israel itself is killing people everyday. I think they have to be brought to court, and we have to ask for justice, not only for our martyrs but also for the Palestinian people who have been massacred both in the past and today.”

“Since the first moment that we saw the Israeli soldiers, they were violent. They had a lot of weapons while we only had humanitarian cargo. The first step they took was violent, and because of that, the rest was much more violence.”

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MANUEL TAPIAL-LAURA ARUA

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


OUASSIMA IBN SALAH: “Israelis have built a country on blood and hatred, and live in fear of everything”

Ouassima Ibn Salah — Moroccan living in Turkey, correspondent of Al Jazeera Net and Moroccan daily, Al Massae
(The responses were received from Istanbul,Turkey on 14 March 2011 via e-mail)

Mavi Marmara, although being just a ship, is a symbol of honour, humanity, solidarity and courage. It is the hope that we, as people, can achieve anything if we are united, and there are still conscious people in the world fighting against the injustice.”

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OUASSIMA IBN SALAH

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GADIJA DAVIDS: “The baby on board was unnerving the Israeli soldiers”

Gadija Davids — South African, correspondent of Radio 786
(The responses were received from South Africa on 29 March 2011 via e-mail)

“Being held in a foreign country, against your will, without any contact with the outside world was a nerve-wracking and stressful experience. We did not know what to expect; we had already undergone three body searches, had our belongings stolen, and subjected to several kinds of torture.”

“I thought that these teenager soldiers probably saw the attack as a training mission, but I couldn’t understand the hatred that they exhibited, even as they stood there armed to the teeth, with all kinds of weaponry at their disposal.”

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GADIJA DAVIDS

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


HAMDI OSMANOĞLU: “Israel’s intention was to kill; the way the martyrs and the wounded were targeted was surely proof of that”

Hamdi Osmanoğlu — Syrian-born Turkish citizen, specialist in dermatology and chief physician
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 11 February 2011)

“When the Mavi Marmara was taken over by the Israelis, and we told the wounded, ‘Brothers, we have to hand over the seriously wounded for treatment,’ all the wounded pleaded saying, ‘Don’t let us go, don’t give us to them; let us die here.’ At that moment we were in a very difficult situation.”

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HAMDI OSMANOGLU

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


JERRY CAMPBELL: “Who would think an entire army would attack a ship full of unarmed humanitarian activists?”

Jerry Campbell — Australian, student of nursing

(The responses were recieved from Australia on 12 March 2011 via e-mail)

“My husband was shot twice in the leg and bleeding heavily since one of the bullets had gone straight through an artery. There were extremely limited medical supplies. He kept pulling his IV fluids out and telling me to give it to someone who needed it more. Little did he know it was he who actually needed them.”

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JERRY CAMPBELL

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


MARYAM LUQMAN TALIB: “My brother, who was shot twice in the leg and made to walk, fainted three times on the way to helicopter”

Maryam Luqman Talib — Australian of Sri Lankan origin, student of pharmacy
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 4 June 2010)

“The spirit on the Mavi Marmara was just beautiful. We had people that we could not communicate with, but our hearts could communicate. There was so much unity, so much love. There was just peace.”

“I really felt that people who are trying within their capacity, who are trying to use the resources which God gave them to fight for the truth, will never feel any anxiety or worry.”

“The Israelis tried to detain us, tried to put fear in our hearts, but it was only their hearts that felt this fear. Even though we were under siege, even though we were all captives, with courage, many of our brothers and sisters were mocking them and resisting. That courage and tranquillity were from God.”

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MARYAM LUQMAN TALIB

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LAURA MACDONALD STUART: “All the injuries were from live ammunition”

Laura Macdonald Stuart — British, housewife and activist
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 4 June 2010)

“All the participants of the Freedom Flotilla are a big family now. We have great solidarity with each other to continue the struggle for justice and freedom for all the oppressed people, primarily the Palestinians.”

“I admired the Turkish men, because although they did not have any guns, they were not afraid of defending the ship. On the other hand, I realised that if you take the gun from an Israeli soldier, you’ll see he is just a coward hiding behind the gun.”

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LAURA MACDONALD STUART

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


SHATHA BARAKAT BINT ABDULLATIF: “In less than just fifteen minutes, everywhere filled with the wounded”

Shatha Barakat Bint Abdullatif — Syrian, Arabic teacher and writer, institute director
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 28 December 2010)

“While experiencing absolute freedom and love on the Freedom Flotilla, suddenly you become a captive! Neither food nor water was given. Even going to the bathroom and speaking was forbidden… I thought how the Palestinian sisters endure being held prisoners for so many years in Israeli jails!”

“A soldier stepped on a life jacket on the ship, and its luminous bands started to flash. They rushed downstairs yelling, ‘Bomb, bomb!’ While an officer at Ashdod was searching me, she pulled out a pen from my pocket and flung it, screaming as if she had found a bomb. Can you imagine how afraid they were?”

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SHATHA BARAKAT BINT ABDULLATIF

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


NUR FITRI MOESLIM TAHER: “We experienced on the Mavi Marmara what the Prophet and His companions had experienced”

Nur Fitri Moeslim Taher — Indonesian, humanitarian relief volunteer and freelance writer
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 27 December 2010)

“Doctor Arief was looking for Cevdet (Kılıçlar)’s heartbeat but he couldn’t find it. At that moment Osama Qashoo started howling and howling, since his hand was filled with pieces of Cevdet’s brain. Whenever I think of that experience, I don’t know what saddens me more, was it to see Cevdet dying or to hear Osama crying like that…”

“I realised that the Israelis are paranoid about anyone and everyone except for themselves. That’s why they can do anything. They don’t care about the consequences of their actions as long as they feel that they are protected and safe.”

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NUR FITRI MOESLIM TAHER

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


SURYA FACHRIZAL APRIANUS GINTING: “They shot me and then forced me to walk!”

Surya Fachrizal Aprianus Ginting — Indonesian, journalist
(The responses were received from Indonesia on 12 March 2011 via e-mail)

“Before I was able to reach the wounded Turkish volunteer to help, suddenly something like an iron hammer struck my stomach. The bullet hit my right upper chest, broke my eighth rib, cut through my lung and liver, tore my diaphragm for about 10 cm, and stopped at my pelvic bone.”

“The Israeli commandos used K9 dogs to intimidate the activists. They forced the wounded activists to walk and climb the stairs with rifle pointing at their backs.”

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SURYA FACHRIZAL APRIANUS GINTING

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


AHSAN SHAMRUK: “I neither want the apology nor the money of Israel, but only real justice!”

Ahsan Shamruk — Palestinian living in the United Kingdom, self-employed
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 27 December 2010)

“The bullet fired from the helicopter shot me in the head, went through my mouth ripping my lips. Another soldier on board shot me in my belly. Four soldiers jumped on me and started kicking. However, the mental abuse I suffered in the helicopter precedes everything that happened to me.”

“We had the opportunity to take the guns of the captured Israeli soldiers, retaliate and shoot them and their helicopters, but we were there for only one reason: to help and give the people of Gaza a reason to live, not only to bear a shameful existence…”

“When we were praying salah, even the Archbishop Hilarion Capucci sat and started praying with us. All what you could hear at that moment was praying and nasheed. I felt as if I was in Heaven on the Mavi Marmara.”

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AHSAN SHAMRUK

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


MEHMET ALI ZEYBEK: “I experienced such a trauma that I couldn’t even remember my daughter”

Mehmet Ali Zeybek — Turkish citizen, pharmacist
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Diyarbakır, Turkey, on 24 February 2011)

“I felt something like a shock given to me from behind, and suddenly my hands and feet stiffened. Blood was streaming out of my whole body. I had been shot with 9 bullets, but I didn’t even realise that. My right arm was a total mess – a main artery had burst open. I collapsed down the stairwell.”

“The Israeli soldiers cuffed my hands and feet. At the stairs, they ordered me to climb up without uncuffing me. I bended and tried to hold on to the rails with my both hands, but fell flat on my back. They again told me to get up, and I did. They pulled and pushed, and somehow got me back up to the spot from where I had first fallen.”

“The soldiers were constantly firing their weapons. Our friends were falling down one after the other. I saw soldiers shooting at our friends that had fallen down as if they were animals, and kicking all that were shot, all that were touched by gunfire violently with their boots.”

“For me apology and compensation are utterly nonsense. What we want is freedom for Gaza, and more precisely, freedom for Palestine… All we ask for is a free Palestine, not any compensation. They can take their money; in fact, we can pay them for it – no sweat!”

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MEHMET ALI ZEYBEK

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


EDDA VIRGINIA MANGA OTALORA: “The treatment of Israelis reminded me Guantanamo and the illegal practices of the ‘War on Terror’”

Edda Virginia Manga Otalora — Swede of Colombian origin, historian and academician
(The responses were received from Sweden on 2 March 2011 via e-mail)

“I remember a young man at the airport in Sweden who had been waiting us for many hours. He embraced me, and told that he wanted to thank me; because Egypt had opened the Gaza border, and so he was going to be able to visit his mother after 9 years.”

“The soldiers witnessed how we were dispossessed of all our property by the Israeli authorities. Later, it was revealed that some of them had taken property of the passengers for themselves, and even used their credit cards. If the authorities order them to dispossess people, how can they raise a youth that is not inclined towards theft?”

“The Flotilla was successful in its political aim of highlighting the illegality and absurdity of the blockade of Gaza; but we couldn’t arrive to Gaza, and the blockade still continues. It means that what was achieved is not sufficient; the actions must continue.”

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EDDA VIRGINIA MANGA OTALORA

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher/editor, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.

 


KEVIN NEISH: “The Israelis committed war crimes on the Mavi Marmara, and are lying to cover up what they have done”

Kevin Neish — Canadian, activist and human rights observer
(The responses were received from Canada on 16 March 2011 via e-mail)

“After having no proper food for about 40 hours, our first prison meal was frozen bread and cucumbers. Drinking water was only supplied sporadically. The prison guards would wake us up every 2 hours all night, such that I ended up not sleeping for 3 days. In the end I lost over 7 kilograms during the ordeal.”

“Israel has ignored World Court decisions, the UN Security Council resolutions and the Geneva Conventions; so I do not hold out any hope of having any effect on Israel via the courts. Facts on the ground like a successful freedom flotilla are much more likely to have an effect on them.”

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KEVIN NEISH

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KENNETH O’KEEFE: “Mavi Marmara and her passengers will forever have their place in history as defenders of humanity and justice”

Kenneth O’Keefe — “World citizen” who renounced the U.S. citizenship, human rights and peace activist
(The responses were received from the Gaza Strip on 3 April 2011 via e-mail)

“I did not think the Israelis would be so stupid as to attack the Mavi Marmara. I was surprised in the end that they did it in international waters no less shows just how insane our world is. If any other nation had done what Israel did, the punishment would have been swift and significant.”

“The Israeli commandos, after we disarmed, went from elite soldiers to frightened little children. These so-called commandos should thank us for our mercy, they murdered 9 good men, and we let them go. I think this single incident says everything about who we are, and who they are.”

“In the airport, I was hit with a baton over the head, and had blood streaming down my head and a concussion from the blow; I was punched repeatedly in the ribs, and choked to the point of blacking out.”

“I will always remember those minutes that I went all over the ship with an Israeli commando’s 9mm pistol trying to find the right person to give it to for safekeeping as evidence of murder on the high seas. The only reason I was not shot is proof that God decided it was not my time to pass.”

“While I was carrying some of the wounded to the Israeli side, one of their dogs nearly bit me. Later I was kicked, kneed and punched. I saw others treated this way when they were handcuffed and defenceless. It was true cowardice, the classic bully, picking on people who could not fight back.”

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KENNETH O’KEEFE

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher/editor, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


NICCI ENCHMARCH: “I witnessed violence, cruelty, incessant lying and racist behaviour of Israelis”

Nicci Enchmarch — New Zealander living in the United Kingdom, project management consultant and activist
(The responses were received from The United Kingdom on 21 March 2011 via e-mail)

“Israel has been aggressively committing crimes against the Palestinians with impunity, and continually breaking international human rights law. There seems to be one law for Israel and its friends, and another law for everyone else. History has shown us that any state or race that believes itself above the law is headed for its own disaster.”

“When you create open-air prisons such as those in Palestine based on race, and kill, maim and deprive people of their basic human rights, and leave them nowhere to escape… who is to blame? Those perpetuating these acts, or those trying to resist this inhuman treatment?”

“Israelis treatment of the wounded was absolutely disgusting. They carried them in blankets by literally bouncing the wounded up each step smashing their backs against the stairs. This was deliberately done. I saw this arrogance, cruelty and nastiness time after time.”

“The Palestinians in Gaza are under siege for no reason except that they democratically elected a leadership and a party that is not accepted by Israel and its friends.”

“The paradox I cannot fathom is how a race of people who were so horrifically treated in the past now turns on another race with such cruelty. Today who is David, and who is Goliath?”

“We watched the looting of Israelis who were going up to the helicopters laden with personal effects and equipment. An Israeli next to me blatantly smashed the CCTV camera off the side of the ship, and casually put it in his bag.”

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NICCI ENCHMARCH

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher/editor, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


PAVEEN YAQUB: “I will never forget the courage of our brothers who sacrificed their lives to save us and the Gazans”

Paveen Yaqub — British of Pakistani origin, peace activist
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 4 June 2010)

“When else can anybody remember the issue of Palestine being discussed globally in every corner of the world? When else was Israel and its regime of inhumanity questioned in the way it is now? We have generated more support, more sympathy, more concern for this issue. So how can it not be a success?”

“When they surrounded us, I had to walk towards the soldiers with machine guns with a message of peace, asking for them to stop firing and help us. It was just something that I had to try in order to stop more people from dying. I will not forget that moment.”

“When we arrived at Ashdod Port, there were hundreds of security personnel. They were laughing as if there was a big celebration, parading us like they had hunted us and showing what they caught. It was humiliating, and they were obviously feeling pleasure from humiliating us.”

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PAVEEN YAQUB

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher/editor, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


BABOO ADEM ZANGHAR: “We are proud of the Turkish brothers and the Turkish Prime Minister”

Baboo Adem Zanghar — Indian living in the United Kingdom, merchant
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 27 December 2010)

“Wherever we went, there were just small boys with big toys. It was just unbelievable since the Israelis seem so much worried all the time despite they had all the weapons. We were in custody, we didn’t have anything to harm them, but still they feared for their lives!”

“The soldiers threw my scarf which had Palestinian flag into the sea, slapped me when they found the medical scissors in my pocket, strangled me and tied my hands at the back, got me on the floor and started kicking, held me from collar and dragged me upstairs.”

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BABOO ZANGHAR

*All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, in any form whatsoever, without written permission from the publisher/editor, except in the case of brief quotations given with reference to the book.


ALEXANDRA LORT PHILLIPS: “The Israeli soldiers did not care about humanity at all”

Alexandra Lort Phillips — British, social worker
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 27 December 2010)

“Israelis like a person who has gone mad, and needs to be sectioned into hospital. It is not self-aware, and is doing so much harm both to itself and to the international consensus. It’s not just being aggressive but actually losing its way, and becoming more and more isolated.”

“The amount of aid we brought from the UK looked very small compared to the huge amount of Turkey’s, including water tanks, generators for hospitals, construction materials, prefabricated homes, playgrounds, etc.; but it was still very important for us to take those gifts from a number of children in the UK to children in Gaza.”

“The Israeli soldiers just wanted to stop the mission, and didn’t care about the consequences at all. I still believe that the soldiers were just young men who were put into that position by older and more experienced leaders. These leaders didn’t care about their own soldiers, much less us. They just wanted to stop the mission, that’s all.”

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ALEXANDRA LORT PHILLIPS

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SARAH COLBORNE: “People working together can change history”

Sarah Colborne — British, director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 27 December 2010)

“I remember one passenger bringing some butterflies for the children of Gaza to give them hope, but Israel does not count this and the toys we took as humanitarian aid, and that just exposes the cruelty of what is happening in Gaza.”

“I had never ever thought that the Israelis would shoot to kill, which was what they did. All of the Israeli soldiers came on the boat with weapons right over their bodies. They did not just have one weapon but covered in weaponry, and they were clearly there to kill.”

“The calls for help started at 5:15 a.m., and it was only at about 7:00 that the Israelis allowed the first of the seriously wounded to be evacuated. I thought our doctors would go with the wounded, but when I went out at the end, I saw all of the doctors and the first-aids in handcuffs.”

“The Freedom Flotilla was very important, and it put Gaza on the world stage and raised awareness. Israel has lost its credibility and public support; because people worldwide are witnessing Israeli violence, occupation and siege, and want to end this injustice.”

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SARAH COLBORNE

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ISMAIL ALI NASHWAN: “I witnessed the massacre of the Zionists for the first time in my village, al-Dawayima, in 1948”

Ismail Ali Nashwan — Palestinian exiled to Jordan in 1956
Mustafa Ismail Nashwan — Jordanian of Palestinian origin, imam and preacher
(The responses were received from Jordan on 17 March 2011 via e-mail)

Ismail Ali Nashwan:  “While the martyrs were being taken down, I burst into tears. Then I saw my son lying as a martyr among them. Immediately I praised Allah that my son’s blood had mixed up with the blood of Turks. However, hours later I saw my son standing alive and well in front of me. I was very moved, and once again praised Allah.”

Ismail Ali Nashwan: “The 3 days I spent on the Mavi Marmara reminded me the memories of the 82 years. Throughout 82 years of my life, I have never witnessed victory. However, on the deck of the Mavi Marmara I saw such youths that I believe, insha’allah, victory will be achieved with their efforts.”

Mustafa Ismail Nashwan: “When it was noon, I stood up and began to recite the adhan. Suddenly the soldiers pointed their guns at me, and the lasers of their guns covered my whole body. They were frightened by the adhan.

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ISMAIL ALI-MUSTAFA ISMAIL NASHWAN

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FATIMA MOHAMMADI: “We experienced what the Palestinians have been experiencing for more than a half century”

Fatima Mohammadi — American of Iranian origin, lawyer and activist
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 26 December 2010)

“Süleyman Söylemez had been shot in the head, and punctured through the back of his head when he fell backwards. I kept changing dozens of bloody towels on his wounds in just 15 minutes. Then the Israelis transported him to the helicopter in a totally barbaric way. He made it through, but still in a very serious coma.”

“Had we just sailed to Gaza without any problem, yes, we could have broken the siege, but the media would not have covered it; yes, we could have delivered the aid and shown solidarity, but without the world even paying any attention. The way that everything happened was a victory.”

“In Ashdod Port, the soldiers put their hands on me; hit me a couple of times with their guns and slammed my head up against the wall, because I wouldn’t let them take my keffiyeh from me.”

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FATIMA MOHAMMADI

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DIMITRIS PLEIONIS: “Israel has become a colonial power, and is doing the biggest harm to itself”

Dimitris Pleionis — Greek, elected municipal councillor and representative of the Ship to Gaza-Greece
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 26 December 2010)

“The Israeli soldiers acted in a racist way. As we had European passports, they didn’t tie most of us, but made especially the Arabs and the Turks kneel down and tied their hands. We decided to disobey. So we started to go down on our knees, and tell these people to go up and sit instead of kneeling down.”

Mavi Marmara was a ship for people who were determined to break the siege of Gaza under the common denominator of universal humanistic values, regardless of any faith, political views or philosophical beliefs.”

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DIMITRIS PLEIONIS

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NADEEM AHMED KHAN: “We documented the brutality and the true face of Israel”

Nadeem Ahmed Khan — Pakistani, lawyer and chairman of the Khubaib Foundation
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 27 December 2010)

“There are 9 martyrs, but the lives of these martyrs and their blood have given life to the Gazans. There are many Furqans already dying in Gaza, but the death of Furkan Doğan has highlighted this issue, and he became a shining star which put light on it.”

“When I reached Ashdod, my personal feeling was amazing. I was extremely happy that I was near al-Quds; I felt just as if I was in umrah. As emotionally and psychologically I was attached to the land, I was not disturbed at all. I don’t know which prophets had lived or passed the place where I was.”

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NADEEM AHMED KHAN

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HAYA AL SHATTI: “Allah blessed every single Flotilla participant with His unique gifts”

Haya Al Shatti — Kuwaiti, treasury-manager of a real estate firm
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 26 December 2010)

“At the end of the attack, all Israelis were angry with their own government and were in a very embarrassed situation, and the lies of Israel were understood by the whole world harming its reputation. These are ten million times more important than delivering aid to Gaza.”

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HAYA AL SHATTI

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ÇİĞDEM TOPÇUOĞLU: “My husband loved birds very much; wherever I go, a bird is following me since he was martyred”

Çiğdem Topçuoğlu — Turkish citizen, 2011 taekwondo champion, wife of martyr Çetin Topçuoğlu
(This face-to-face interview was conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, on 22 March 2011)

“My husband was shot while he was carrying the wounded in. While I was performing CPR, I felt something burst below my hand; it was such a bullet that it burst inside his body. Blood began to come out of his mouth and nose. I noticed that a bullet had pierced through behind his head, and he had bullets in his torso.”

“They interrogated me at the prison. Showing my husband’s pictures, they addressed me silly questions like, ‘Is this person your husband or not? How many Israeli soldiers did he kill? Which terror organization are you affiliated with? Why did you come here to occupy our lands?’ Their mistreatment lasted until we left the prison.”

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CIGDEM TOPCUOGLU

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PAUL LARUDEE: “My resistance to the Israelis is a victory for nonviolent resistance”

Paul Larudee — Iranian-born U.S. citizen, philologist and peace activist, co-founder of the Free Palestine Movement and the Free Gaza Movement
(The responses were received from U.S.A. on 16 March 2011 via e-mail)

“If our two small boats in 2008 inspired the Mavi Marmara, so the Mavi Marmara may have been an inspiration to the people of Tunisia, Egypt and others. It is a statement that power ultimately belongs to the people.”

“Many Americans refused to believe the story that hundreds of Israeli soldiers, armed to the teeth (but nonviolent!), were unexpectedly attacked in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea by unarmed (but violent!) humanitarian aid workers. As Abraham Lincoln said, ‘You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’”

“I jumped off the boat in order to force the Israelis to stop and waste their time, and also to encourage the passengers to resist. They sent one of their warships to pick me out of the water, but I refused to cooperate with them, so that it took more than an hour to remove me from the water.”

“The solidarity between all of us was the most inspiring part of the experience. At the airport, many passengers most of whom I did not know rushed to my defense. All of us were beaten badly. Especially a Turkish man, Muhammed Latif Kaya, suffered multiple broken bones and had to be carried to the aircraft by his colleagues.”

“The passengers surrounded the wheelhouse, blocked all the doors and windows, and linked arms. The soldiers attacked with stun grenades and tasers, and by beating with guns or sticks. The passengers refused to move but did not hit back. Finally, the soldiers pulled them away.”

“As we made apartheid unsustainable in South Africa, we must make Zionism unsustainable in Palestine. If we can eliminate the racist state, we will have achieved an important victory for justice.”

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PAUL LARUDEE

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GENE ST.ONGE: “Sfendoni was a microcosm of the world community that we dream about living in”

Gene St.Onge — U.S. citizen, consulting civil/structural engineer
(The responses were received from U.S.A. on 4 March 2011 via e-mail)

“The Israeli authorities were determined to teach all of us, through collective punishment, a lesson to never again consider doing what we did. That is why we were attacked, robbed and harshly treated, both physically and emotionally, throughout the ordeal.”

“The commandos, dressed in full military gear with M16 rifles and black stockings covering their faces, used tasers, sound grenades–and even their rifles–to contain us. We, on the other hand, simply tried to stand in their way.”

“The Freedom Flotilla increased public awareness of Israel’s role in the occupation. Israel has lost its influence in world affairs, and is increasingly being viewed as a ‘rogue state’. It showed to the Palestinians that there are many people around the world that care about them–even to the extent of risking their lives.”

“I will never forget the great people I met on the boat and in prison. They were inspiring to me so much, so that, once we were released from prison, I felt a certain sadness… I will also never forget the commando raid on our boat. That part of the adventure still seems somewhat surreal to me.”

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GENE ST.ONGE

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HUWAIDA ARRAF: “Our global grassroots constituted a threat to Israel’s entire colonial, apartheid project”

Huwaida Arraf — Palestinian with American and Israeli citizenship; lawyer, the chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement, and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement
(The responses were received from U.S.A. on 18 March 2011 via e-mail)

“The Freedom Flotilla is more than just about Gaza. It’s about the power and responsibility of the global civil society to collectively organize and stand up to brutal regimes. It’s about what average civilians can do to defend freedom and human rights when our governments are shamefully silent.”

“We were only 17 on the Challenger 1, but we used our bodies to try to keep Israeli commandos from taking over our vessel. We put up as much resistance as we could, but Israeli commandos with their guns, tasers, sound bombs and attack dog beat us down.”

“A soldier bashed my head against the deck and proceeded to step on it, pressing so hard that I began to scream. My hands were cuffed behind my back. A sack was placed over my head, and I began screaming, ‘I can’t breathe!’ but the soldiers wouldn’t listen.”

“We were and are politically motivated. We are not interested in simply delivering aid, but aim to end the policies that leave Palestinians in need of aid. The Palestinians want their human rights respected so that they can work and provide for their families, and lead a life with dignity.”

“After the flotilla attack, the majority of the Israelis became more irrational and fascist, and thousands of them demonstrated calling for death to Arabs and down with Turkey; whereas the Palestinians were extremely supportive of our flotilla, and happy to see a strong global civilian front standing up to Israel.”

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HUWAIDA ARRAF

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DAVID K. SCHERMERHORN: “In Gaza, I saw a resilient people living through appalling restrictions with grace and fortitude”

David K. Schermerhorn — U.S. citizen, activist and retired film and TV commercial producer
(The responses were received from U.S.A. on 5 March 2011 via e-mail)

“Most of our personal property was taken while we were still on board, and nothing has been returned despite the efforts of our consulate. I did have roaming charges from Tel Aviv billed to my iPhone AT&T account. Kathy Sheetz had beer charged to her visa card in Tel Aviv.”

“I am not sure if the endless lying by the Israelis throughout my captivity was a form of psychological abuse or merely the expression of a national trait exemplified by Mr. Netanyahu. In any case, it remains one of the more irritating aspects of imprisonment.”

“In 2008 we eventually broke the siege at sea for the first time in 41 years. We could only carry limited cargo on our old boats, but for the thousands of Palestinians, who cheered us into the port, we brought hope and an assurance that the outside world had not forgot them.”

“The warmth of the welcome and hospitality aboard the Mavi Marmara was very memorable for me. Places were made for us at the crowded tables. Tea and cakes were instantly offered up. Warm silent handshakes were eloquent greetings when a common language could not be shared.”

“Since the discovery of natural gas in 1999 in Gazan waters, the Israelis had begun a policy of attacking fishing boats that traveled more than 6 miles from shore. Over a dozen fishermen have been killed, 200 plus wounded, and scores of boats captured or destroyed.”

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DAVID K. SCHERMERHORN

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