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3 Jun, 2010 00:38

“No question” Israel was aggressor in flotilla attack

The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted for an independent investigation of the Israeli attack on the aid flotilla. The debate continues to rage on over who caused the confrontation.

Huwaida Arraf was a passenger on The Challenger ship in the aid flotilla. She described what it was like onboard the night of the raid.

During the night when we were traveling, at around midnight, we were contacted by Israeli naval forces and they were asking us questions to which we responded. Then they started issuing warnings against us and demanding that we turn back and that if we did not turn back that they would use all necessary means to enforce their blockade of Gaza. To this we responded that the blockade was illegal, we’re only carrying humanitarian aid, we’re unarmed civilians and there’s no reason to use force against us and we kept repeating this and we told them we have journalists and members of parliament on board and people from all different countries and we are unarmed. A few hours later, at approximately 4:00 a.m., while it was still dark, we saw their naval vessels approaching us. We all went outside the boat because we had planned to try and defend our boat as much as possible in terms of using our bodies to try to keep the soldiers from getting on. At this point, I was able to see the beginnings of the attack on the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship which is also the largest passenger vessel carrying approximately 560 people. What I saw consisted of Zodiacs from the Israeli navy that had commandos on it. I heard explosions like concussion grenades that we call sound bombs and then also opening of fire. I know that we did not have any weapons on any of our ships,” said Arraf.

Arraf was arrested onboard, her hands bound and her head covered. She said the Israeli forces began firing on the ships before they even landed, utilized concussion grenades and tasers, and that there could be “no question” that Israel was the aggressor.

The activists onboard were seeking to take aid to the people of Gaza. They were protesting the collective punishment against the Palestinian people and are not apologists of Hamas or other terror groups, said Arraf.

The United States has continued to back Israel and called for an Israeli investigation into the matter. Arraf said that there is no way Israel can independently carry out an investigation and that an independent investigation is needed.

It is a shame that the United States has to follow last. As an American citizen, I would like to see my country leading the rest of the world in defending human rights and unfortunately when it comes to Israel they are not, they are doing just the opposite. Israel has instituted collective punishment against the Palestinian people. This is a war crime, it has to be stopped. If the United States wants to stand on the wrong side of history, than as international civil society we will do what needs to be done, said Arraf.