Irish man denies Gaza activists armed
An Irishman who was part of a Gaza bound aid flotilla raided by the Israeli Defence Forces today said he saw nothing to suggest any of the peace activists were in possession of weapons.
Shane Dillion, from Blackrock in Dublin, said the fire fighting defences of the flotilla’s largest ship, the Mavi Marmara, were activated when the commandos attempted to board, as was the norm for pirate attacks, and that rubbish bins were thrown from the deck.
He rejected Israeli claims that some of the activists were armed during the attack which killed at least nine people.
“Any of the weapons I have seen demonstrated by the Israeli defence forces were typical equipment that you would have on a ship,” said Mr Dillon, a member of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
“There was a knife for a galley. They also showed a sledgehammer, which would be on a merchant vessel for anchor cables etc. There was nothing on display to show there were any weapons.”
Speaking at a press conference in Dublin today, Mr Dillon said there was a screening system and electronic detectors onboard the largest boat in the flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, to check it passengers for weapons. He returned from Israel last night.
Mr Dillon, who was travelling on the Challenger 1 in the flotilla, said when the Israeli commandos boarded the ship the activists engaged in “purely non violent and verbal protection” to allow him time to get video footage of the attack uploaded to the internet.
He said the Israeli’s initially focused their attention on the journalist onboard as it appeared they did not want footage, photographs or reports of what had transpired to be released.
Mr Dillon said he was disgusted at the behaviour of the Israeli defence forces. “To my mind it is an act of piracy - a terrorist act in international waters on a flotilla of people involved in peaceful humanitarian aid mission to Gaza,” he said.
He also said he feared for the safety of the other activists. “We could see the stun grenades going off, we could hear the tasers being deployed. They were also firing high power paintball guns at the passengers and crew of the Mavi Marmara."
He said commandos boarded the Challenger 1 with force and fired taser and paintball guns as well as hitting people with the butts of their riles.