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Friday, 1 October 2010

Ritual Violence Against the Jewish Boat to Gaza




Monsters in Uniform - the Israeli Military


I remember the Union of Jewish Student’s response to criticism of Israel. ‘Shalom’ and ‘Mutual Recognition’ they said. But of course these weren’t values that they took on board but as things to counterpose to support of the Palestinians and opposition to Zionist terror & racism. As if shouting ‘Shalom’ is an answer to smashing someone over the head.

So it is with Israel today. We had Benjamin Netanyahy stating that ‘we did everything to avoid violence’ after the boarding of the Mavi Marmara and the murder of 9 activists. Only the BBC fell for that one but then they always did have a blind spot for the violence of the State (unless the British state was at war with them).

The Jewish Boat to Gaza was people by a majority of persons over 60 years of age. Unlike the Gaza Freedom Flotilla it was a tiny, symbolic boat. But that didn’t stop the use of a taser gun, which is a portable means of torture, against Yonatan Shapiro. Although the violence was less against the Internationals on board, those who were Israeli also faced considerable violence, presumably because Israel thinks any of its citizens foolish enough to oppose Zionism and its barbarities deserves anything meted out to them. That is the nature of the Jewish state.

Indeed it is the best answer to the argument for Israel that it is a refuge for Jews in the diaspora.

Below is a Report on the Jews for Justice for Palestinians web site and then testimony from

What really happened when the Jewish boat to Gaza was boarded

Glyn Secker Captain, the “Irene”

30 September 2010

followed by an interview with Yonatan and Itamar Shapira

There then developed a sight which will remain with me for the rest of my life – with the frigate in the background, two gunboats, two landing craft and four high powered ribs spread out in a semi-circle speeding towards us at perhaps 35 knots, with their bow waves and wakes flashing in the sunshine. It was surreal, it was like an action movie, and entranced by the sight I had to remind myself this was actually happening – this overwhelming force for a 9.7 metre 40 yr. old boat, the majority of its Jewish occupants over 60 years old, with no weapons and a publicized policy of passive resistance.

The next we knew there were two ribs very close alongside with the commander on a megaphone again warning us of the dangers if they boarded us. I reiterated our legal rights, and for what it was worth I accelerated, just to make a point that outpacing them was fantasy. Then as planned Itamar addressed the commandos in Hebrew and English, calling on them not to obey the orders to take actions which are illegal under international law. The ribs closed in, and the boarding commenced.

All the crew and passengers (apart from myself as I was steering) held hands.They boarded us simultaneously from both sides. At that moment we cut the engines and sat over the access points to the cut offs to prevent them restarting the engines. The wheel is on the starboard side of the boat. I was surrounded by three commandos, I held on to the wheel as hard as I could. It reminded me of being on violent picket lines with the police trying to break through. One grabbed my left arm, another my right arm. The third stood by with a Tazer gun. After a struggle they managed to prize my hands from the wheel and threw me down on the floor. I managed to crawl behind them and remove the engine starter keys but one of them saw me and prized the keys from my hands.

On the opposite side of the cockpit Yonatan Shapira and his brother Itamar had been identified by the IDF commander in charge. He sought to separate them from the others. Yonatan clasped Rami in a hug to prevent himself being removed. The senior officer then moved one sideYonatan’s lifejacket covering his left breast, placed a Tazer gun in contact with his clothing and fired it directly into his heart. Yonatan let out a dreadful scream and the force of the Tazer caused him to lose control of his muscles. He was pulled off Rami and across the cockpit to the middle. He was then hit twice more by the Tazer gun, screaming out again. Both he and Itamar were forcefully pulled off our boat onto the IDF rib on port side.They were driven at very high speed over the waters, which had now become moderately rough (the wind had increased to a F4) and it would have been very uncomfortable especially for Yonatan still recovering from the Tazer shocks. They were taken to the frigate where they were treated normally, then to shore and released on bail without charges.

Meanwhile I had turned off the fuel supply to the engines. After some time (the engines only burn 1 1/2 litres per hour) when the fuel in the pipes had been used up the port engine started to fail. (The starboard fuel shut-off failed to work). After many attempts to restart the engine the IDF took the boat in tow. The boat is designed to go through the water at a maximum speed of about 8 knots. They towed us through the rough waters at 12 – 14 knots. The boat was bouncing about violently, it was dangerous for the remaining passengers and crew, including Reuvan, our 82 year old holocaust survivor. We all sustained bruises and the passage to Ashdod was exhausting. There was something like eight commandos on the boat in addition to ourselves so it was grossly overloaded. It was surprising that the boat did not begin to break up, the whole structure was groaning and making cracking sounds. It was clear that they intended to seriously mistreat the boat. During the passage they tore down all the banners and flags – including the red ensign (the UK flag) which legally has to be displayed in all foreign waters.

As a gesture of defiance I decided to cook lunch! Not easy in the circumstance but I managed to produce omlett (with garlic) sandwiches which Reuvan, Lillian and I think Eli and I shared. Whilst in the galley I took the opportunity of chucking out of the window the carving knife, the bread knife, a chisel and two hammers from the tool box, remembering that similar items had been photographed as evidence of weapons on previous boats.

I’d like to point out that in the USA it is illegal for the police or the army to fire Tazers directly into the heart as there have been a number of cases of heart failure and death as a result of such targeting.

The fact that Yonatan was released without charge makes it very clear that the use of the Tazer on him was purely malicious.

Contrary to IDF reports, there was therefore, considerable resistance, be it non-violent, to the IDF’s illegal hijacking of our boat, and there was considerable, unprovoked and very dangerous violence perpetrated by the IDF.

See Glyn’s full testimony below, following the report by Yonatan and Itamar Shapira


Yonatan and Itamar Shapira report

29 September 2010

Yonatan and Itamar Shapira were two of the Israelis on-board the Jewish boat to Gaza, the Irene. They above all were subjected to violence from the Israeli forces who intercepted the boat.

These are their words an hour after they returned to their family in Israel:

“The Israeli media is being dominated by army propaganda. They’re claiming that the take over of the boat was non-violet and quiet on both sides – but what actually happened was that the boat passengers were non-violent, but the Israeli Navy was very violent.

At sunrise we stopped about 35 miles from shore and put up all the flags and banners from the organisation – the boat looked so, so pretty! We then turned south-east and headed towards the port in Gaza. Film maker Vish and journalist Eli took the dinghy and took stills and video of the boat. Everyone felt a sense of excitement as we stood on deck waving goodbye to the quiet journey we had been on. We knew that soon we would be intercepted, so we used the time for briefings. Holding each other’s hands, we talked about the principles of the boat and decided on strategies of how to deal with the Navy.

When we were approximately 20 miles outside of Gaza, a big Navy warship was spotted to the north of us. At that point it was still quite far away, so we held course.As the warship drew closer they hailed us and spoke to Glyn, the captain. The Navy said that we were entering a closed area by an oil rig, so the Irene altered course slightly in response. We then saw another smaller ship in front of them. As the warship approached and drew parallel to the Irene the smaller ship remained stationary. A number of smaller vessels were spotted coming from the east. The Navy again called us demanding to know our intention – we replied that we were headed for Gaza.

The Navy responded with the exact declaration they made before attacking the Mavi Marmara :

“You are entering an area which is under military blockade and is closed under international law.”

Itamar was in charge of communicating with the Navy, and responded by reading our own declaration in English and Hebrew:

“We are a boat of the European organisation Jews For Justice For Palestinians. We are unarmed and non-violent and determined to proceed to the port of Gaza. You are enforcing an illegal blockade and we do not recognise your right to do this. On this Jews For Justice for Palestinians boat are peace activists of all ages among us holocaust survivors, bereaved parents and Israelis who refuse to collaborate with the illegal occupation of Palestine.”

We waited for them to confirm that they had heard.

The Navy repeated their message in Hebrew – then the boats started coming from all sides. Eight army vessels surrounded us – three or four of the ships had cannons.

We called the soldiers to refuse their orders:

“We call on you IDF soldiers and officers to disobey the illegal orders of your superior officers. For your information, the occupation of Gaza and the Palestinian Territories are illegal under international law; therefore your risk being tried in the international courts. The blockade as well as the occupation is inhumane and contradicts universal and Jewish moral values. Use your conscience. Remember our own painful history. Refuse to enforce the blockade. Refuse to occupy Palestine.”

Itamar read this in Hebrew and English on radio a few times as the boats came towards us. Everyone was getting ready and holding hands on the Irene, getting ready for interception. Vish was in the front taking photos and filming the whole thing.

There were more than 100 soldiers on all the military boats around our boat. Two small boats with cannons drew up on both sides, shouting and threatening us with megaphones and constantly moving closer towards us. Glynn the captain stayed calm and behaved exactly to principles of boat, staying on course and challenging the Navy.

The military spoke to Itamar directly and stated that he was responsible for the harm that would come to us and the risk that we were taking by not changing course. We understood very quickly that we were about to be boarded at any moment. The small boats came right up close and then the north side jumped on board.

ITAMAR: As i was talking to the army boat cruising alongside us with some 20 armed, and muscled navy soldiers i was amazed for the thousandth time in my life at how the army portrays the reality to themselves and to us. They insisted that it is me personally who is responsible for the violence that may happen if we do not obey and they will be “forced” to board our little boat. I cynically tried to show them how ridiculous it seems to have so many armed, strong and trained soldiers boarding a boat with 9 un-armed people, most of whom remember the second world war and civil right movement in the 60’s, who declare non-violence. How can they portray the violence as our responsibility. I reminded them of the holocaust survivor and bereaved parent on board and that we do not want any confrontation with them. I think it made them angry but reduced their possible violence to most passengers apart from Yonatan and I. It is very important to remember that the Israeli army had killed two Gazan fishermen in the passing week with minimum media attention for getting “too close” to what the IDF has decided the blockade border is. Therefore their violence toward us must be put in proportion to this.

During all the military action I was talking to Al Jazeera but I’m not sure what they have of it or what was broadcast as he was about to go on air when the phone was grabbed.

They attacked Itamar and took him to their boat. The other soldiers viciously pushed Glynn from the helm. The rest were holding hands singing “We Shall Overcome.” I think Reuven may have been playing his harmonica!

ITAMAR: At least 2 soldiers, to what i understood, were assigned to getting all recording devices. The Israeli Ch 10 reporter stood next to me and one of the soldiers just took his camera from his hand. I took the camera back without touching the soldier and put it behind my back and refused to give it to the soldiers. The soldier called another one and together tried to make me move with twisting arms and shouting and trying to reach for the camera. when they did not succeed they asked for a permission from their commander to arrest me. 4 of them dragged me to the military boat and forced me down to the boat’s floor in order to handcuff me. i did not give up until one of them pushed his fingers deep onto the artery in my neck, and then i heard Yonatan’s dreadful scream and saw him losing control of his body because of the electric shock he got. I shouted to Rami to throw the camera into the boat’s engine-room and Yonatan was brought to the military boat that i was on and we were both handcuffed and taken to a large ship.

While we were holding hands singing the soldiers started taking over everything. At that point I was sitting on the floor of the boat hugging Glynn and Reuven, trying to decrease the risk to them, then moved to sit with Rami. On each side one of the passengers turned off the engines so as not to make it possible for the navy to steer the boat to a different place.

Soldiers on boat approached me and Rami, they seemed to want to take me to a Navy boat. Me and Rami hugged each other – the strongest hug I have ever given to anyone!

The officer came towards us, pulling out his taser ordered us to stop holding on to each other. The soldier threatened if I did not let go they would hurt me, then tasered me on my right shoulder and shot twice – it was very painful – but not as painful as the next shot where he pulled aside my life jacket, put gun on my chest and fired.My whole body lost control and I convulsed like a fit, I let out a high pitched scream. Then they took me to one of their boats.

And that was the “non-violent” take over of the Jewish boat to Gaza. Of course if we were Palestinians or Muslims they would have shot with live ammo, but because we were Jews and Israelis and had world attention they did not want to do what they did to the Mavi Marmara. Of course later they took all evidence filmed by Eli and Vish and the only evidence which now exists is with the military and the military film itself. It would be amazing if somehow there was pressure for the army to release the media materials we shot – there’s no reason for them to keep it. It’s amazing footage of all 48 hours of the voyage and the messages we wrote on the masts and flags from everyone who had sent wishes. Probably the most powerful images are of the actual seconds when the Navy boarded the ship.

All our banners and flags were pulled down by the army and the boat was pulled with the rest of passengers on-board to Ashdod.

Itamar and I went to Ashdod in the big warship which took several hours. We saw the boat being towed to the port. We saw the protesters, friends, family and supporters waiting for us on the beach since the morning, and a boat of film makers with cameras that were trying to reach us but was intercepted and forced to turn back to the port.

Each one of us had an intimate body search – they touched me quite intimately but no internal search. Eventually we were taken to a police station in Ashdod and saw more demonstrators waiting for us outside.

The police station took several hours, they interrogated Rami, Itamar, Reuven, Eli and I and we were all accused of trying to enter an illegal closed zone, while Rami, Itamal and I were also accused of threatening, insulting and attacking the soldiers. We were all released around eight in the evening. It was shocking to be attacked so brutally whilst hugging and singing – the soldiers shouted at us, shook and pushed us. We were shocked to hear the army say the takeover was peaceful.

There was a big group of Israeli media and also people from Reuters and a few others waiting for us outside station. We answered their questions, then Reuven took out his harmonica and played a beautiful Jewish songs about people who pursued peace. Everyone joined in around us, as we sang together some people who were passing by shouted things like “death to the Arabs”.

If we weren’t Jews and Israelis we would have much less chance to make it out alive. I send my love and thanks to everyone for all of their support, love and efforts to help us.”

NOTE:

Yonatan was not given or offered any medical attention at any point after he was shot with the taser.

They were released on 5000 N.I.S bail to return for additional interrogation or court discussion.

It is unclear as to whether they will be charged.


Glyn Secker’s Testimony

Getting to Farmagusta was a long long trip, the longest passage we’d made – two nights and three days, and having to manually helm every minute of the way as we never managed to get the auto-pilot working. Usually after such passages there’s the expectation of being able to catch up on sleep, to relax a little and to re-charge ourselves. But we were only too aware that as the last port of call this stop was going to be be the most demanding of all: we had intentionally chosen a port which was not set up for small craft and knew that even finding a berth was going to be a challenge. Then we had an intensive schedule of press conferences, loading the boat with the aid and the banners, re-fueling and watering enough for double the length of the final passage (in case we were forced to return), getting the passengers on board, and all this under the watchful eyes of the port authorities whose attitude we were uncertain of.

We arrived as Sven-Y-Two as a tourist boat. A local fisherman allowed us to use one of his berths and then amazingly organized fuel from the town which he brought in jerry cans, and water, and helped me buy the outboard motor for the Gaza fishermen, spending most of the afternoon driving me round the town looking for a dealer open on the weekend. The port police were friendly but of course bound by their own cumbersome procedures, then surprised us by summoning other officials to come to us rather than us having to find them in town.

Meeting up with the London team and the passengers was straightforward and a mixture of hugs and kisses and anxiety and frenetic action. The press conference the next morning generated its own momentum and and it was then that I really began to feel the whole project lifting off. And it did so with a bang – the AP team were local Turkish Cypriots and as a matter of routine sought permission from the port authority to film our departure despite all the strictures to keep beneath the radar. Our hearts sank when returning to the port we were greeted by the sight of a police car. Not to arouse suspicion we had invented a story that we had just met up with a group of friends on a separate holiday and that we wished to take them for a spin around the bay. But we then discovered that the regulations required the port police to hold the passports until people return. At this point we realised the story may not hold, and we were at a loss as to what to do. After more discussion between the authorities it became clear that they had probably cottoned on to whom we really were and simply stated ‘Look, if you all just want to get on the boat and go and not return, that’s fine with us.’ ! So we were then into a frantic scramble to get away before there were any calls to higher authorities or they changed their minds. Hurriedly we laid out all the aid to be photographed, got all the banners out, got all passengers on board and within half an hour had cast off. The friendly fisherman had invited the AP media on board and as we left the port holding aloft the banners he cast off and circled us giving them the shots which went around the world and which alerted the IDF to our imminent arrival.

The weather was still very kind to us and we made better progress than expected. Not wanting to time the encounter with the IDF in the dark we slowed down and when the morning had warmed up I suggested that a good way to de-stress would be to stop the boat and for us all take a swim in the sparkling deep blue water. We put out a long line with a fender on the end and in we all plunged – a swim to remember. Reuvan was amazing, confidently swimming away from the boat and me trying to keep him within reach of the safety line! I think I was the only one who had any breakfast – home made muesli (wonderful almond nuts).

And then finally after all these days and weeks of anticipation we identified a frigate on the horizon. It shadowed us for some considerable time, keeping on our port side about five miles off. Then we saw a number of smaller craft lined up and realized that the encounter was approaching. We rehearsed our strategies and waited, with adrenalin levels slowly rising. Shortly there came a call on Ch 16 over the VHF from the frigate asking us our intentions and the flag of the boat. I informed them that we were heading for Gaza port, that we were in international waters and had no intention of entering Israeli waters. They replied that Gaza was within a prohibited area and that we should change our course. I responded by stating that that did not accord with international law, that we were unarmed, had no materials which could be put to military use, that we carried a consignment of aid for Gaza and that we expected safe passage. They then warned us that they would intercept us, that this could be dangerous for the crew and damaging for the boat. I reiterated that as a British flagged boat they had no legal right to intercept us and that we intended to maintain our course to Gaza. There was no reply and we continued on our passage for perhaps another twenty minutes – presumably they were waiting for us to cross the boundary of their unilaterally declared prohibited zone.

There then developed a sight which will remain with me for the rest of my life – with the frigate in the background, two gunboats, two landing craft and four high powered ribs spread out in a semi-circle speeding towards us at perhaps 35 knots, with their bow waves and wakes flashing in the sunshine. It was surreal, it was like an action movie, and entranced by the sight I had to remind myself this was actually happening – this overwhelming force for a 9.7 metre 40 yr. old boat, the majority of its Jewish occupants over 60 years old, with no weapons and a publicized policy of passive resistance.

The next we knew there were two ribs very close alongside with the commander on a megaphone again warning us of the dangers if they boarded us. I reiterated our legal rights, and for what it was worth I accelerated, just to make a point that outpacing them was fantasy. Then as planned Itamar addressed the commandos in Hebrew and English, calling on them not to obey the orders to take actions which are illegal under international law. The ribs closed in, and the boarding commenced.

All the crew and passengers (apart from myself as I was steering) held hands.They boarded us simultaneously from both sides. At that moment we cut the engines and sat over the access points to the cut offs to prevent them restarting the engines. The wheel is on the starboard side of the boat. I was surrounded by three commandos, I held on to the wheel as hard as I could. It reminded me of being on violent picket lines with the police trying to break through. One grabbed my left arm, another my right arm. The third stood by with a Tazer gun. After a struggle they managed to prize my hands from the wheel and threw me down on the floor. I managed to crawl behind them and remove the engine starter keys but one of them saw me and prized the keys from my hands.

On the opposite side of the cockpit Yonatan Shapira and his brother Itamar had been identified by the IDF commander in charge. He sought to separate them from the others. Yonatan clasped Rami in a hug to prevent himself being removed. The senior officer then moved one sideYonatan’s lifejacket covering his left breast, placed a Tazer gun in contact with his clothing and fired it directly into his heart. Yonatan let out a dreadful scream and the force of the Tazer caused him to lose control of his muscles. He was pulled off Rami and across the cockpit to the middle. He was then hit twice more by the Tazer gun, screaming out again. Both he and Itamar were forcefully pulled off our boat onto the IDF rib on port side.They were driven at very high speed over the waters, which had now become moderately rough (the wind had increased to a F4) and it would have been very uncomfortable especially for Yonatan still recovering from the Tazer shocks. They were taken to the frigate where they were treated normally, then to shore and released on bail without charges.

Meanwhile I had turned off the fuel supply to the engines. After some time (the engines only burn 1 1/2 litres per hour) when the fuel in the pipes had been used up the port engine started to fail. (The starboard fuel shut-off failed to work). After many attempts to restart the engine the IDF took the boat in tow. The boat is designed to go through the water at a maximum speed of about 8 knots. They towed us through the rough waters at 12 – 14 knots. The boat was bouncing about violently, it was dangerous for the remaining passengers and crew, including Reuvan, our 82 year old holocaust survivor. We all sustained bruises and the passage to Ashdod was exhausting. There was something like eight commandos on the boat in addition to ourselves so it was grossly overloaded. It was surprising that the boat did not begin to break up, the whole structure was groaning and making cracking sounds. It was clear that they intended to seriously mistreat the boat. During the passage they tore down all the banners and flags – including the red ensign (the UK flag) which legally has to be displayed in all foreign waters.

As a gesture of defiance I decided to cook lunch! Not easy in the circumstance but I managed to produce omlett (with garlic) sandwiches which Reuvan, Lillian and I think Eli and I shared. Whilst in the galley I took the opportunity of chucking out of the window the carving knife, the bread knife, a chisel and two hammers from the tool box, remembering that similar items had been photographed as evidence of weapons on previous boats.

I’d like to point out that in the USA it is illegal for the police or the army to fire Tazers directly into the heart as there have been a number of cases of heart failure and death as a result of such targeting.

The fact that Yonatan was released without charge makes it very clear that the use of the Tazer on him was purely malicious.

Contrary to IDF reports, there was therefore, considerable resistance, be it non-violent, to the IDF’s illegal hijacking of our boat, and there was considerable, unprovoked and very dangerous violence perpetrated by the IDF.

On arriving at Ashdod we were greeted by perhaps 100 people in uniforms of one sort or another within an a secure area created by ships containers. We were obliged to pass through a tent where we were subjected to detailed body searches and luggage searches. I was the last out as I insisted on making an inventory of the boat valuables, though I was unable to get any officer to countersign it it, it was taken by a female officer from I believe their foreign office, but this was not clear. Before I was allowed back on the boat to do the inventory it was searched, including the use of a dog. None of us of course had any illegal drugs, but I have to admit of a nervous moment when someone asked me if any previous owner might have stashed anything away – this hadn’t occurred to me. Whilst waiting I was approached by a Major who stated that he was in charge of Gaza boarder security and he offered to transport our aid to Gaza. He arranged for us to go onto the boat, I extracted the aid from the lockers and he placed it where he could find it later. The boat was in a state of chaos, having been ransacked by those searching it. I don’t suppose they intend clearing out the fridge and other food, so god knows what it will be like after a few weeks in what is still a hot time of year. Combined with the split bellows on the loo pump whoever goes on the boat next will need a good face mask and a strong stomach.

I was taken to the Immigration and Boarder Authority where I experienced a truly Kafkaesque moment. We were presented with a form to sign which stated that I was due to be deported being suspected of residing in Israel illegally. When I pointed out that the only reason I was in Israel at all was that the IDF had kidnapped me and forcefully brought me into Israel on the orders of the government, the reply was that it did not matter who had brought me in, but that now I was there I was there without permission and so due for deportation. They were not amused by my laughter.

The regulations allowed for a rapid departure at their expense if I signed the form, but I was anxious not to be seen to recognize the Israeli law creating the blockade and therefore the basis for deportation.Then equally bizarrely, they stated that I could add whatever statement I wished to the form and could have a photocopy, so I added a clause stating that I did not recognize the legal basis for the deportation as it had no basis in international law, and duly signed.

Eventually the lawyers then arrived – really great people. I checked that my understanding of the law was correct and that if I had opted to go to court to appeal the deportation the result would have been the same and they confirmed I had it right. The IDF had smashed up the sat phone I had hired in front of me. I hope they will explain to the insurance company why they had not just taken it so that it could be returned later.

I was then taken to the detention centre at Ben Gurion airport. Again we and our luggage were all subject to yet more detailed searches. The smallness of the minds of those whose job it is day in and day out to carry out these numbing tasks can only be guessed at. Then, I was alone with Vash, banged up for the night – banged being a very appropriate word describing the door slam behind you. Having many times visited clients in detention or prison as a social worker it was odd indeed being on the other end but my complete self confidence in the absolute correctness of our principles and our understanding of international law never deserted me.

Despite asking for water I was left without a drink for 12 hours. When I asked again in the morning I was told to drink the tap water – which was warm. Later they provided a cup of tea and a roll and a towel, so I was able to shower. The officers who were to take me to the airport were Ethiopian Jews and were required to put me in ankle cuffs for the journey. I told them it was not at all necessary – they were rather embarrassed and apologized but said they were obliged to use them. At least they carried my bag to the minibus. I was taken directly to the plane on the tarmac and had to climb a metal staircase up to the access, the cuff chain clanking on the steps – reminded me of Winton Marsarlis’s song about the chain gangs.

They removed the cuffs out of sight of the other passengers and then another Kafqeresque moment when I am welcomed aboard by the chief steward as any other passenger, informed that there will be a meal and drinks provided and wished me a comfortable journey! There was sophisticated inflight entertainment – it was a Boeing 777 – but there was no news service at all, very odd, I was in an El Al bubble.

I didn’t think anyone at home knew of my flight arrival time as I didn’t know it until I was on the plane, but the lawyers must have told Miri and it was absolutely great, in fact overwhelming, to be greeted by Vanessa and a welcome party of close friends – amazing, what a two days, never to be forgotten.

Its fantastic coming back to amazing support that’s buzzing. I’m overwhelmed with the results I think it was really successful. We made our point to the world very powerfully that there are probably hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world who are appalled at the Israeli policies to the Palestinians; the violations of their humanity and their human rights.

Glyn Secker, Captain of the Jewish Boat to Gaza

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