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Passengers recount mid-sea horror – Andre Abu-Khalil, Al Jazeera cameraman

Andre Abu-Khalil, Al Jazeera cameraman

First they [the Israelis] tried to come by helicopter and tried to come down on the main deck. But the Turkish people were gathering on the rooftop and they managed to grab three of the soldiers, which led to a second helicopter to come and start shooting live bullets on the people.

People [on board] did not have any guns. All what they had were some wooden sticks which is normal.

I was on the Mavi Marmara [the lead ship of the flotilla].

I wasn’t on the rooftop deck. I was on the first deck floor where the Israelis tried to climb by the ropes on the deck.

There were 20 Turkish resistance guys throwing tomatoes, anything that they managed to throw, on the Israelis.

Then one of these Turkish guys got a bullet just in the head. When the Turkish people saw that, they pulled him inside when the Israelis started firing on the deck.

[After the Israelis took over the ship] they kept us tied up, hands behind the back, for nine hours until we reached the Ashdod port and from there they took us for individual interrogation and then shipped us all to Be’er Sheva jail.

The organisers [of the flotilla] swapped the four Israelis kidnapped, or caught, by the people on the ship, and because they were beaten up, because it’s kind of resistance from our side, we swapped the Israeli soldiers to [get] to treat our injured.