On 4 November 2011, a clear, bright, sunny day in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Canada Boat to Gaza, Tahrir, and the Irish ship, Saoirse (SEER-shuh), attempted to sail for the second time this year into the darkness of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
The two small civilian boats carrying 20 activists, including CPT supporters, 5 journalists and $30,000 in medicine had sailed from Turkey two days earlier.
On the horizon ahead of the boats there appeared an armada of 20 Israeli ships – four war ships, four water cannon boats and a dozen fast moving military zodiacs.
With the two boats stopped in the water, the Israeli navy attacked with water cannons and then swarms of masked commandos carrying laser sighted assault rifles and machine guns. Delegates were pushed, shoved and in one instance, tazered, the laser sights of the automatic weapons drawing bright red scribbles on their chests and heads.
Hours later the passengers were forced to debark onto Israeli soil at the port of Ashdod. Held in the Israeli prison of Givon for five days and six nights, the prisoners were subjected to psychological mistreatment including sleep deprivation, denied contact with their families for 2 days and repeatedly lied to as to when they would be released. A full week after their capture at sea, the last delegates were deported back to their home countries.
Visit www.tahrir.ca for more details and info about Freedom Waves to Gaza and the Freedom Flotilla.