BERLIN, Agence France-Presse · Wednesday, Jun. 2, 2010
Activists yesterday claimed they offered no violence and no resistance as Israeli troops stormed the Gaza aid flotilla.
Israel has blamed activists on the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara, for the deadly outcome to Monday’s pre-dawn raid, saying they attacked soldiers with clubs and knives as they boarded.
A group of German witnesses who experienced the assault first hand before being detained and deported denied anyone on board was armed with more than a few wooden sticks.
Norman Paech, a 72-year-old former member of parliament told reporters in Berlin.”The Israeli government justifies the raid because they were attacked. This is absolutely not the case,” said Mr. Paech. “This was not an act of self-defence.”
A German doctor on the ship, Matthias Jochheim, who had bloodstains on his trousers from people he treated, said he had personally seen
four dead people and expected the total death toll to be 15.
The Israeli military says nine passengers were killed in the fight.
Mr. Paech, a former MP from the far-left Die Linke party, said he took photographic evidence but that his camera had been confiscated.
He denied Israel’s suggestion that passengers had been lying in ambush.
“We had not prepared in any way to fight. We didn’t even consider it,” he added. “No violence, no resistance — because we knew very well that we would have absolutely no chance against soldiers like this. This was an attack in international waters on a peaceful mission … This was a clear act of piracy.”
“We felt like we were in a war, like we were being kidnapped,”
said another MP Inge Hoeger, 59.
“Nobody had a weapon.”
A Greek activist on one of the smaller boats, the Eleftheri Mesogeio, said Israeli troops used rubber bullets, tear gas and electroshock weapons to subdue those aboard.
Commandos jumped onto the ship about an hour after the clashes on the Mavi Marmara, he said.
“They fired rubber coated bullets, tear gas and then used electroshock weapons on some activists,” he told Skai television after Israel deported him and five compatriots to Athens.
A Frenchman detained on another of the six ships told reporters his fellow passengers offered no resistance to arrest.
“The instructions were clear. Do not provoke, remain calm and go to meet them [the commandos] saying ‘We are pacifists and not terrorists,’
Youssef Benderbal said after arriving at a Paris airport.