JERUSALEM – Organizers say some activists were beaten when Israeli troops took over a Canadian ship trying to breach Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza strip.
The Tahrir was carrying medical aid and activists from nine countries, including three Canadians, when it was intercepted by Israeli forces yesterday.
Israel has said the takeover was peaceful and no one was hurt in the process. The Tahrir and an Irish ship it was sailing with were towed to a port north of Gaza.
But Canadian Boat to Gaza organizer Dylan Penner says he’s been told some activists — including a man from London, Ont. — were “roughed up” when they refused to voluntarily leave their vessel.
He says organizers are also very concerned that those being held haven’t been able to contact family, lawyers or supporters back home.
Israeli officials say deportation procedures are underway for 22 activists who were taken in yesterday and they should be sent home within 72 hours.
Israel says its naval blockade of the Palestinian territory is vital to stop weapons reaching the Iran-backed Hamas militants who control Gaza. Critics say it amounts to collective punishment.
(BREAKING NEWS: / www.winnipegfreepress.com / 05.11.2011)