The following is the transcript of an exclusive interview hosted by Lauren Booth with Osama Qashoo, filmmaker, journalist, ISM observer on attacked flotilla who was used as a human shield.
Press TV: As someone who has been involved in the Free Gaza movement now for two years since its beginning, what did you expect Israel was going to do once you saw those ships?
Qashoo Well from my experience with the Free Gaza Movement and from what we were talking in the leadership and that ship about what was the scenario that we were going to face by the Israeli army. I mean we did really expect that the Israeli army will interfere but we thought they were going to stop us from reaching the Strip that they would try their best to drag the ship towards the Ashdod board. We knew that they might rain us with tear gas and rubber bullets we did expect that we might encounter a few injuries, but it never ever came to our head that they would use live ammunition.
Because using live ammunition on civilians who were going in the middle of the sea is absolute inhumane, and a massacre and that’s why that option was completely far away from our thoughts so we didn’t even kind of prepare our self for that option.
Press TV: Why would the Israeli’s attack an aid ship?
Qashoo I don’t know, arrogancey, piracy, I don’t know, I don’t think it’s an act of heroism to attack a civilian humanitarian ship in international water, I don’t understand how these people work.
Press TV: What happened to some of the Israeli soldiers that were disarmed on the ship?
Qashoo The soldiers who were disarmed aboard the ship, they were disarmed, some of them got injured, there were some excited people who tried to attack them, but we protected them, I was one of the guys pushing them away from the soldiers not to beat them up. And these soldiers were taken to a special hospital that we had in salon number 2 to the female nurses and doctors who would treat them with bandages and then they were taken back to the [rest of the] soldiers.
If we were to use violence we had the guns with us, the guys had the guns of Israeli soldier with us, we decided that we will not going to use violence, we decided that we are not going to kill any of those Israeli soldiers, and we decided that we were not going to kidnap any of those Israeli soldiers. Under the circumstances it was not very difficult to kill or kidnap not five but ten Israeli soldiers.
But the intention was this: We were going to defend the ship non-violently as much as possible using whatever we have but we were not going to go that extreme to the Israeli soldiers or kidnap them, so that was not intentional at all we took the soldiers back to other Israeli soldiers .
Press TV: Who was the first person that you personally witnessed being injured?
Qashoo I don’t really remember names, but there were like a few people that were being shot, I could see them screaming as they were taken down, and they were covered with blood, they were Turkish and one of the Kuwaiti guys was hit in the eye.
We didn’t know what was exactly happening but he was screaming and couldn’t see, we couldn’t tell what happened, and at that point with the live bullets bloods were coming from everywhere, we were bringing injured people from every single door, and it was really like the Judgment Day.
Every body was coming from everywhere with blood in their hands it was really hard to tell who’s injured, who got blood of his friend and we started asking to take a shelter and my friend, who was responsible for internet connection on board, he was taking photos of soldiers that were shooting at him from the helicopter and he was shot taking those picture, right here between his eyes and he fell on the ground and his brain was all over so this was the first direct witnessing that I had seen when he was just hit right in front of us .
And they took his camera and memory card.
Press TV: You talked about human shield, but there was nothing to shield the Israelis from, how does that work?
Qashoo Well, I was left with injured people and a member of the Israeli Knesset parliament Haneen Zuabi who were also doing her best to intermediate between the soldiers and trying to convince them that we need more time to evacuate the injured people and because of that I was left the last passenger with two doctors and more than fifteen injured passengers, who Israeli soldier decided to take to Israeli hospitals by helicopters.
And then they decided to take away who was injured and who was not seriously injured, one of the guys that was shot in his leg who could limp a little bit was left on the top roof and few other passengers that could limp and walk were not taken to Israeli hospitals, we had at least 39 injured
Press TV: What was the treatment at this point?
Qashoo It was really rough, they were handling these injured people like a sack of potatoes, they weren’t listening to the doctor that was completely warning them that ‘if you move this injured guy he will die because he was internally blooding and he’s got fractions,’ so their interest was to look at their faces and examine them against their papers and decide who they think should be evacuated.