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Flotilla Boarding Dangerous, Violent - Activists

The Israeli special forces operation to board a two-ship flotilla en route to Gaza with aid was dangerous and violent, report activists on behalf of an imprisoned Irish coordinator Fintan Lane speaking from Givon prison in Israel.

The ships were hosed with high-pressure water hoses, smashing windows and washing passengers down stairs and on the deck. The boats were so closely corralled together that they collided and almost sank, while Israeli commandos pointed guns at the activists on the Irish ship MV Saoirse, said Lane.

"The Israeli forces initially wanted to leave the boats at sea, but the abductees demanded that they not be left to float at sea, for they would have been lost and possibly sunk. All belongings of the passengers and crew were taken from them and they still do not know if and what they will get back," said Lane via telephone to the organisation Irish Ship to Gaza. 

The 14 Irish citizens arrested by Israel remain in Givon prison.

In an interview he gave to www.Omniatv.com, Greek captain of the second ship Tahrir Giorgos Klontzas has confirmed the use of violence on him by Israeli soldiers during his interrogation. There are also have reports that at least one of the Canadian boat participants was electrically tased and beaten and Canadian organiser David Heap is now limping as a result, said the activists.

The vessels were intercepted on November 4th approximately 35-50 nautical miles away from Gaza. The flotilla was 'led' towards Ashdod Port, said the IDF, which also said that there were no aid supplies on board the ships. This was denied by the organisers, who said they have 30,000 USD worth of medical supplies intended for the Palestinians.

There are various media outlets reporting on developments aboard the Tahrir, including Al Jazeera and Democracy Now.

The activists sailed into dangerous waters, with Turkey and Israel on military alert in the Eastern Mediterranean, ready to tangle over aid to Gaza and natural gas exploration in the waters around Cyprus.

In May 2010, nine Turkish-origin activists were killed by Israeli special forces en route to delivering aid to Gaza and breaking the Israeli military and naval blockade on the territory.

Israel-Turkey relations have unravelled ever since Israel's refusal to apologise over the deaths.

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