First Hand Accounts from the Gaza Flotilla Raid, Including Free Gaza Organizer Huwaida Arraf

1 June 2010

Below is a link to an interview with Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement organizer who was on the flotilla, with CNN:

Other first-hand accounts:

Originally from english.aljazeera.net

photo from AFP

Israel has started releasing some of the 700 passengers it captured after troops stormed a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

Turkey has sent three planes, including two military ambulance aircraft, to bring its nationals home.

Six Greek activists returned to Athens after being expelled from Israel, and a former US ambassador who was also on the ship was on a flight home.

Here are excerpts of what some of the freed passengers had to say:

Issam Zaatar, Al Jazeera cameraman

“I was filming, and then he (an Israeli solider) ran after me with a stun gun.

“He could not catch me. One of his colleagues hit my hand from behind with a stun gun. My camera fell down. He ran to crush the camera with his feet.

“I told him, don’t break my camera. If you want the tapes, I will give them to you. I told him these are media equipment. They had no limits.

“They used rubber bullets. They used tear gas bombs. It was an unbelievable scene.”

Mihalis Grigoropoulos, Greece

“I was steering the ship, we saw them [Israeli soldiers] capture another ship in front of us, which was the Turkish passenger vessel with more than 500 people on board and heard shots fired.

“We did not resist at all, we couldn’t even if we had wanted to. What could we have done against the commandos who climbed aboard?”

“The only thing some people tried was to delay them from getting to the bridge, forming a human shield. They were fired upon with plastic bullets and were stunned with electric devices.

“There was great mistreatment after our arrest. We were essentially hostages, like animals on the ground.

“They wouldn’t let us use the bathroom, wouldn’t give us food or water and they took video of us despite international conventions banning this.”

Nilufer Cetin, Turkey

“We stayed in our cabin and played games amid the sound of gunfire,” Cetin said to reporters at Istanbul airport, as she held her one year old son.

“My son has been nervous since yesterday afternoon … I did not need to protect my son. They knew there was a baby on board. I put a gas mask and life jacket on my son. We did not experience any other problems on board, only a water shortage.

“We took walks on the deck, played games with my son. The curtains were drawn, so I did not see not the raid as it was happening. I only heard the voices. There are lightly and heavily wounded people.

“There are thousands, millions of babies in Gaza. My son and I wanted to play with those babies. We planned to deliver them aid. We wanted to say: “Look, it’s a safe place, I came here with my baby-son”

“I saw my husband from a distance, he looked okay. The ship personnel was not wounded, because they (the soldiers) needed them to take the ship to port.

“I will go again if another ship goes.”

Mutlu Tiryaki, Turkey

“When we went up to the deck, they emerged from helicopters and military boats and attacked us.

“They approached our vessel with military ships after issuing a warning. We told them we were unarmed. Our sole weapon was water.”

Bayram Kalyon, Turkey

“The captain of the vessel Mavi Marmara told us, “They are firing randomly, they are breaking the windows and entering inside. So you should get out of here as soon as possible.

That was our last conversation with him.”