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Activists on intercepted Gaza-bound boat claim Israel used tasers

The Israeli army has denied the claim, by lawyers representing passengers on a boat that included five international MPs.

Noam Chomsky participates in a press conference held by the passengers of the 'Estelle' after their boat was intercepted by the Israeli navy.
Noam Chomsky participates in a press conference held by the passengers of the 'Estelle' after their boat was intercepted by the Israeli navy.
Image: Hatem Moussa/AP

LAWYERS FOR THE PASSENGERS of a boat carrying international activists, which was intercepted and taken over by the Israeli navy yesterday, have claimed Israeli troops used tasers on them during the takeover.

Lawyers for the group – which included five parliamentarians from various countries, though not including Ireland – told AFP the army had used “electric shocker device”, “to the extent of what we call ‘electro torture’” on some of the passengers.

The lawyer added that at least one of the people tasered was an MP. The boat was carrying two members of the Greek parliament, and one each from Spain, Sweden and Norway.

A former Canadian MP was also on board the ‘Estelle’, which was carrying 30 passengers on a humanitarian mission to Gaza when the boat was intercepted and taken over by Israeli forces yesterday.

An Israeli military spokeswoman denied that the country’s troops had exercised any kind of violence while intercepting the boat.

“No force was used when taking over the ship,” Avital Leibovich said.

The boat was led to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod, where three Israeli nationals who were on board the ship were arrested for incitement. This morning a judge extended the period for which they can be detained by three days.

19 of the activists on the boat – including individuals from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Spain and Canada – are being held at a prison outside Tel Aviv. They will appear in court in the coming days ahead of their expected deportation.

Organisers of the flotilla – the latest to attempt to break a naval embargo imposed by Israel around the Palestinian-controlled Gaza region – said the boat was carrying humanitarian aid and 30 doves, which they had hope to release upon arrival.

Academic and political author Noam Chomsky, who is currently visiting Gaza, joined a press conference held by the passengers yesterday, openly promoting a two-state solution in the Middle East.

With the embargo around maritime traffic, and Gaza city’s airport having been destroyed about ten years ago, land border crossings are effectively the only way to travel in and out of the Gaza Strip.

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Gavan Reilly

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