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Posts Tagged ‘Hussein Shukor’

CHINGFORD: Flotilla survivor returns home

8:45am Wednesday 9th June 2010

Tauqir Sharif

A SURVIVOR of the Israeli raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza has spoken of the “horrific” events he witnessed, as he tries to adjust to life back home in Chingford.

Tauqir Sharif, of Warwick Road, was on board the lead Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara in the Mediterranean sea when it was boarded by troops in an assault which led to the deaths of nine men.

The convoy of boats, carrying medical supplies, food and toys, was trying to break an Israeli-imposed blockade of the Gaza strip, which has been in force ever since Hamas won elections there in 2007.

The 23-year-old returned home to England at the weekend after being held in an Israeli prison for two days.

He said: “I’m disappointed that the aid never got to Gaza, because that was the sole point of the trip, despite the media attention. It wasn’t about shaming the Israeli Government – they do that for themselves.

“I’m still taking everything in. I’ve learnt so much about myself I can’t even begin to describe it.

“I’ve seen things – I’ve seen dead bodies and very badly injured people. I’m not sure what effect it’s had on me, it’s all still sinking in and I get flashbacks.

“But I do know that it has made me more determined and I want to go back to Gaza as soon as possible. I don’t want to stop there, I want to train as a paramedic and go to places like the Sudan and Haiti.”

Mr Sharif survived the raid with only minor injuries.

“When it began a group of us were on the middle deck praying. Someone shouted ‘they’re coming’ and then they started shooting at us and coming on board.

“During it most people were just trying to hide, but there was resistance. I had a camera and I was trying to film as much as I could. But the Israelis took it along with my laptop and everything else so I’ve lost the footage.

“I was very, very lucky because another guy on the boat who was filming got shot in the head.

“I don’t know how anyone could say that we attacked first. They were the ones carrying guns and they were the ones that were boarding the ship.

“It was horrific. I saw the body of man who had been shot and half his head was hanging off.

“We managed to get some of the injured into a room and then the troops surrounded us and made us come out one by one.”

One of those killed, 60-year-old Ibrahim Bilgen, had become a close friend of Mr Sharif in Turkey as they prepared to set off for Gaza. He was shot four times in the head.

Mr Sharif said: “He was like a grandfather I never had. Before we set off I visited his home and family in Turkey, we went fishing together.

“It was very upsetting.”

He added: “Whatever scratches, cuts and bruises I have it is nothing to what the Palestinian people have to go through on a regular basis.

“While there were nine people killed and it got a lot of attention around the world, Palestinians get shot and killed by the Israeli troops on an almost daily basis and it doesn’t get coverage. Only the other day four were shot dead by a beach.”

Israel has rejected UN calls for an independent investigation into what happened, saying it will carry out a probe itself.

Mohammed Abid Mahi, 31, from Walthamstow, was also on board and has now returned home. He has been reluctant to speak publicly about what he witnessed.

The Guardian understands his pregnant wife went into labour just days after the raid happened.

Source

Four Lebanese flotilla passengers return home

‘Freedom Fleet’ members cross border at Naqoura
By Wassim Mroueh and Mohammed Zaatari
Daily Star staff
Thursday, June 03, 2010

BEIRUT: Four Lebanese passengers of an aid fleet bound for Gaza were released by Israeli authorities on Wednesday.

Lebanese activists Hussein Shukor, Hani Sleiman and Al-Jazeera journalists Abbas Nasser and Andre Abou Khalil entered the Lebanese territories via the Naqoura border crossing.

On Sunday night, Israel’s navy stopped six ships dubbed “The Freedom Fleet” ferrying 700 people and 10,000 tons of supplies toward Gaza strip. A Turkish vessel was attacked by Israeli commandos, killing at least nine activists. The captured vessels were escorted into Israel’s port of Ashdod.

The passengers who came from different states are being deported by Israeli authorities. Six Lebanese passengers were aboard the “Freedom Fleet.”

Issam Zaatar, a carrier of a Lebanese-Belgian dual nationality, had left Israel for Brussels Tuesday morning.

Reports said Nabil Hallak, a Lebanese who holds an Irish passport will be deported by the Israeli authorities to Ireland.

Nasser, meanwhile, has been working for Al-Jazeera television since 2004.

The 34-year-old journalist has served in Al-Manar and Al-Alam TV stations along with Bahrain radio station.

As for 61-year-old Hani Sleiman, the lawyer was injured during the Israeli attack on the Turkish ship. He was also among the passengers of the “Lebanese Brotherhood” vessel that tried to break the Israeli siege on Gaza in February 2009.

The ship was held by the Israeli authorities and its passengers deported to their countries. Sleiman occupied senior posts in the Baath Party between 1966 and 1974 and has joined a number of associations. Sleiman is married and has three children.

Hussein Shukor lost his wife and four children when his home was hit by Israeli jets in 2006 summer Israeli war against Lebanon.

He also planned to join the “Lebanese Brotherhood” vessel but failed to do so.

Israel’s step drew waves of criticism from many states and international organizations.

Turkish Premier Tayyip Erdogan urged the immediate lifting of “the inhumane embargo on Gaza” on Tuesday.

“Israel’s behavior should definitely, definitely be punished,” Erdogan told a meeting of his parliamentary deputies, adding: “The time has come for the international community to say enough.”

Meanwhile, rallies protesting the Israeli storming of the “Freedom Fleet” continued in Beirut on Wednesday.

A sit-in was held by various Lebanese political parties along with Palestinian factions near the ESCWA headquarters in downtown Beirut.

The gathering was called by head of Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) Chouf MP Walid Jumblatt.

The sit-in was attended by members of March 8 and March 14 camps, two rival political groups.

Participants in the sit-in decided to forward petitions conveying their united stance against the aggression to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Arab League Chief Amr Moussa and ambassadors of member states in the Security Council.

PSP official Sharif Fayyad outlined to the crowds the content of a petition that was handed to UN Media Center Director Bahaa Al-Qousi. The letter slammed “Israeli aggressiveness” calling it a “natural product of the racist Zionist culture.”

The demonstrators urged the Security Council to deter the ongoing Israeli aggression against civilians that “didn’t spare volunteers from different races trying to deliver aid to Palestinians besieged by Israel.”

They also called upon the Security Council to lift of the blockade on Gaza, impose sanctions on Israel and force it to pay compensations for the “humane and social” disasters it provoked.

Also, around 5,000 individuals gathered Wednesday afternoon near Fatima gate in the border village of Kfar- Kila protesting Israel’s aggression on Gaza’s aid fleet.

The Hizbullah-arranged gathering was attended by the party’s MP Ali Fayyad and Baaath Party MP Qassem Hashem along with a number of local figures.

Reports said the demonstrators remained near the Israeli-Lebanese borders until the Lebanese passengers were released.