Israel releases all Gaza aid flotilla activists | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 02.06.2010
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages


Israel releases all Gaza aid flotilla activists

Israel says it has released all of the 682 foreign activists detained after the raid on a Gaza-bound aid convoy. Among them were at least 11 Germans, one of whom was injured during the raid.

Hands with the slogan 'free all prisoners' written on them

All of the temporarily detained activists have been released

Israeli officials on Wednesday said that all detainees from the Gaza aid flotilla had been released and were being deported. Some have been bussed to the border with Jordan, while most have been brought to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport. According to Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Jigdal Palmor, the majority of the activists have already returned to their home countries.

Of the 11 Germans, five have arrived back home. Of the six still waiting to be cleared for flights, one had to be treated for injuries at a hospital near the airport.

The activists on board the ships claimed to be part of a humanitarian mission to Gaza and were being held in Israel for questioning about the incident.

Bus at border crossing with Jordan

A number of activists were bussed to Jordan, the rest brought to Ben Gurion airport

Germany criticises Israeli raid

Among the Germans already back home is Left Party politican Norman Paech.

"This has been a clear act of piracy," he angrily told reporters. "I'm anxious to hear what the German government and parliament have to say about this act of piracy, which if it had occurred near Somalia would be treated as such."

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has criticised the Israeli raid while German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a lifting of the blockade of Gaza.

Also on board were Matthias Jochheim, a German representative of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear war; Inge Hoeger and Annette Groth, current Left Party members of parliament; and Nadel El Sakka, a representative of the Palestinian community in Germany.

Detainees in a bus

Among those detained onboard the aid flotilla were least 38 different nationalities, many of them Turks but also Israelis, Palestinians and more than a hundred Europeans.

Hoeger, one of the two members of parliament, said the women on the ship were quickly shut in a lower level of the ship, the so-called 'women's deck,' during the night.

"We couldn't get out, we didn't know what was going on above because we were locked in," she said. "We put on our life vests and eventually we figured out that the ship was occupied, that the Israelis had taken it over."

Hoeger and her colleague Groth said they did not know who had shut them in - the organizers of the flotilla or the Israelis. After they were let out they were searched, handcuffed and brought to the port in the Israeli city of Ashdod. There they were allowed to contact the German embassy, she said.

"This is against any kind of international law, just like the blockade of Gaza is against international law," she said. "And through our actions we wanted to make it known that this is illegal."

Netanyahu dismisses UN criticism

Israel says it has processed activists of at least 38 different nationalities, many of them Turks but also Israelis, Palestinians and more than a hundred Europeans.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu accused international critics of "hypocrisy"

The United Nations' Human Rights Council has meanwhile condemned Israel for the attack on the flotilla. The 47-member body on Wednesday passed a resolution to establish a fact-finding mission into possible violations of international law.

Tel Aviv has refused to cooperate with previous probes ordered by the council.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday defended the seizure of the aid flotilla, accusing critics of "hypocrisy".

In a televised address to the nation, he said he would continue to blockade the Hamas-run Gaza strip, arguing that lifting the embargo would turn the Palestinian enclave into a base of Iranian missiles.

Editor: Rob Turner

DW recommends

Audios and videos on the topic