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Concerns over Freedom Flotilla activists 'beaten, dragged'

July 31, 2018 1:12 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 6, 2018 2:52 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza expressed its concern for the safety of international solidarity activists who were aboard the Al Awda Freedom Flotilla ship when it was attacked by Israel in international waters.

The Freedom Flotilla members were detained by Israeli naval forces on Sunday and are still being held in the Israeli Givon prison in al-Ramla in central Israel.

The International Committee confirmed that Dr. Swee Chai Ang, a British activist, author, and orthopedic surgeon, suffered injuries due to being assaulted on board by masked Israeli naval forces.

Sources also confirmed that several activists were beaten by Israeli forces before being dragged out of the ship to be detained.

Head of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza, Zaher Birawi, said that this information contradicts Israel's statements and claims that the detention of the activists was peaceful and that no one was harmed.

Birawi holds Israel fully responsible for the safety of the activists, pointing out that Israel must provide them with medical care and demanded Israel to immediately release them.

He stressed that Israel will be prosecuted for the "crime of kidnapping" the Freedom Flotilla ship and its activists, who did not impose a threat to Israel's security.

Birawi requested Israel to also return media equipment belonging to journalists who were aboard the ship.

On Monday, Israeli authorities released two Israeli activists on bail, who were identified as Jonathan Shapira and Zuhr Chamberlain Regev, while the remaining 20 international activists were not given the option of release upon bail.

Regev said in a statement that "people on board were tasered and hit by masked Israeli soldiers. We did not get our passports or belongings before we got off the boat. Do not believe reports of peaceful interception."

Israel charged both, Regev and Shapira, with attempting to enter Gaza and conspiracy before being released on bail.

In 2010, one of the Freedom Flotilla ships was attacked by Israeli naval forces in international waters. The ship, which was carrying aid to Gaza, was attacked while being unarmed, killing 10 pro-Palestinian activists and injuring dozens of other peaceful activists.

The Freedom Flotilla ship peacefully sailed towards the shores of Gaza, with aim to draw the world's attention to the unjust siege and intending on breaking Israel's nearly 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.
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