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Inside the flotilla attack

Farooq Burney, the Canadian director of Al Fakhoora, a Qatar-based charity for fostering education in Gaza, was among the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish boat boarded by Israeli commandos early Monday morning.

Mr. Burney, 37, was reached in Istanbul by The Globe and Mail’s Middle East correspondent, Patrick Martin, just before boarding a flight to Qatar.

Mr. Burney, where were you when the Israelis arrived, and what did you see?

I was on the main deck when the assault began.

Basically, we had just finished the morning prayer, when we saw two Israeli boats approach the ship. It was almost as if they had waited until we finished the prayer.

We knew something was going to happen because the Israelis had radioed our ship’s captain about four hours before to ask where we were going and so on.

We were expecting something to happen as a result of that, and certain people stayed up, while others went to sleep.

Did you stay up?

No, I went to sleep, but got up at 3:30. The attack began happening at about 4:10.

The first thing that happened was that someone on the Israeli boats threw gas bombs or something from the boats onto our deck. There was a very loud bang, a huge bang, and a lot of smoke. Some of the women started screaming when they heard the bang.

At that point, some people began spraying the Israelis with water, from fire hoses.

Had they gotten them ready before the attack?

Yes, they got them ready before.

As this was going on, a helicopter approached, and people knew they were going to try to take over the ship. Lots of people then tried to stand around the captain [on the bridge] to stand in their way.

I was not directly under the helicopter, but I could see things quite clearly: First one commando, then another descended.

People rushed the first commando and they overpowered him.

How? Did they use wooden clubs or metal rods or anything?

No, it was just basically hand-to-hand combat. You have to realize there were about 25 or 30 people fighting with this guy, and they overpowered him and disarmed him. Then they threw him onto the deck below.

And they didn’t use any weapons at all when they were doing this?

No, none at all.

What happened to the second commando?

They overpowered him too; also just with hand-hand fighting.

Did they throw him off the deck as well?

No, they locked him up in a room.

Then, at that point, a second helicopter came and tried to lower commandos onto the deck. But there were too many people on the deck by this time and they [the commandos] couldn’t do it. So it left.

Then, a third helicopter came…

How long after the second helicopter?

About two or three minutes later.

And that’s when they opened fire.

Who opened fire?

The Israelis.

And then bullets were flying everywhere. There were these sounds crack – crack – crack.

Multiple or single shots?

Multiple shots.

At this point, more commandos came on board.

Where from?

From helicopters…

More to come

June 3, 2010 - Posted by | War Crimes

1 Comment

  1. […] Inside the flotilla attack […]

    Pingback by Eyewitness testimony, video and photos from the Mavi Marmara « Hope2012 | September 6, 2010


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