Glyn Secker, the British captain of the Jewish boat to Gaza, reports on its interception earlier this week, and his deportation. Key excerpts:
There then developed a sight which will remain with me for the rest of my life – with the frigate in the background, two gunboats, two landing craft and four high powered ribs spread out in a semi-circle speeding towards us at perhaps 35 knots, with their bow waves and wakes flashing in the sunshine. It was surreal, it was like an action movie, and entranced by the sight I had to remind myself this was actually happening – this overwhelming force for a 9.7 metre 40 yr. old boat, the majority of its Jewish occupants over 60 years old, with no weapons and a publicized policy of passive resistance.
The next we knew there were two ribs very close alongside with the commander on a megaphone again warning us of the dangers if they boarded us. I reiterated our legal rights, and for what it was worth I accelerated, just to make a point that outpacing them was fantasy. Then as planned Itamar addressed the commandos in Hebrew and English, calling on them not to obey the orders to take actions which are illegal under international law. The ribs closed in, and the boarding commenced.
All the crew and passengers (apart from myself as I was steering) held hands.They boarded us simultaneously from both sides.
At that moment we cut the engines and sat over the access points to the cut offs to prevent them restarting the engines. The wheel is on the starboard side of the boat. I was surrounded by three commandos, I held on to the wheel as hard as I could. It reminded me of being on violent picket lines with the police trying to break through. One grabbed my left arm, another my right arm. The third stood by with a Tazer gun. After a struggle they managed to prize my hands from the wheel and threw me down on the floor. I managed to crawl behind them and remove the engine starter keys but one of them saw me and prized the keys from my hands.
On the opposite side of the cockpit Yonatan Shapira and his brother Itamar had been identified by the IDF commander in charge. He sought to separate them from the others. Yonatan clasped Rami in a hug to prevent himself being removed. The senior officer then moved one sideYonatan’s lifejacket covering his left breast, placed a Tazer gun in contact with his clothing and fired it directly into his heart. Yonatan let out a dreadful scream and the force of the Tazer caused him to lose control of his muscles. He was pulled off Rami and across the cockpit to the middle. He was then hit twice more by the Tazer gun, screaming out again. Both he and Itamar were forcefully pulled off our boat onto the IDF rib on port side.They were driven at very high speed over the waters, which had now become moderately rough (the wind had increased to a F4) and it would have been very uncomfortable especially for Yonatan still recovering from the Tazer shocks…
[The boat was then towed in to Ashdod, at high speed] As a gesture of defiance I decided to cook lunch! Not easy in the circumstance but I managed to produce omlett (with garlic) sandwiches which Reuvan, Lillian and I think Eli and I shared. Whilst in the galley I took the opportunity of chucking out of the window the carving knife, the bread knife, a chisel and two hammers from the tool box, remembering that similar items had been photographed as evidence of weapons on previous boats.
I’d like to point out that in the USA it is illegal for the police or the army to fire Tazers directly into the heart as there have been a number of cases of heart failure and death as a result of such targeting.
The fact that Yonatan was released without charge makes it very clear that the use of the Tazer on him was purely malicious.
Contrary to IDF reports, there was therefore, considerable resistance, be it non-violent, to the IDF’s illegal hijacking of our boat, and there was considerable, unprovoked and very dangerous violence perpetrated by the IDF.
On arriving at Ashdod we were greeted by perhaps 100 people in uniforms of one sort or another within an a secure area created by ships containers. We were obliged to pass through a tent where we were subjected to detailed body searches and luggage searches. I was the last out as I insisted on making an inventory of the boat valuables, though I was unable to get any officer to countersign it it, it was taken by a female officer from I believe their foreign office, but this was not clear. Before I was allowed back on the boat to do the inventory it was searched, including the use of a dog. None of us of course had any illegal drugs, but I have to admit of a nervous moment when someone asked me if any previous owner might have stashed anything away – this hadn’t occurred to me. Whilst waiting I was approached by a Major who stated that he was in charge of Gaza boarder security and he offered to transport our aid to Gaza. He arranged for us to go onto the boat, I extracted the aid from the lockers and he placed it where he could find it later. The boat was in a state of chaos, having been ransacked by those searching it. I don’t suppose they intend clearing out the fridge and other food, so god knows what it will be like after a few weeks in what is still a hot time of year. Combined with the split bellows on the loo pump whoever goes on the boat next will need a good face mask and a strong stomach.
I was taken to the Immigration and Boarder Authority where I experienced a truly Kafkaesque moment. We were presented with a form to sign which stated that I was due to be deported being suspected of residing in Israel illegally. When I pointed out that the only reason I was in Israel at all was that the IDF had kidnapped me and forcefully brought me into Israel on the orders of the government, the reply was that it did not matter who had brought me in, but that now I was there I was there without permission and so due for deportation. They were not amused by my laughter.