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Israel deports Freedom Flotilla activists

Aug. 1, 2018 11:55 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 6, 2018 4:51 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza announced on Wednesday that the Israeli authorities began deporting several of the international solidarity activists, who were aboard the Al Awda ship of the Freedom Flotilla.

The International Committee confirmed that the activists deportation back to their countries, comes two days after being detained following an attack by Israeli naval forces on the ship in international waters.

Zaher Birawi, head of the committee, said in a statement that a number of international activists have already been deported on Tuesday, including a Malaysian professor, Dr. Mohd Afandi Salleh, and on Wednesday the rest would also be deported.

Birawi stressed that many of the activists rejected to be voluntarily deported, preferring to delay it for more than 72 hours, the legal deadline for accepting voluntary deportation from the country.

Birawi continued that the activists are attempting to delay their deportation, in order to appear before an Israeli court to expose the unjust practices of Israeli naval forces who attacked the humanitarian ship in international waters, and to later prosecute Israel for its actions.

The committee quoted the testimonies of some of the activists as being exposed to "beatings and violence" including the ship's captain, his assistant, and other solidarity activists.

Swedish human rights activist, Divina Levrini, who was among international detainees, said in a statement that she declares a hunger strike, as a form of protest against the treatment she received by Israeli forces and against the harsh conditions she is going through while being detained in the Israeli Givon prison.

Levrini had conducted an interview with Ma'an in July, while aboard the Freedom Flotilla ship, in which she discussed the Flotilla's intention on raising awareness about the Israel-Gaza conflict and on breaking the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza.

In addition, two days prior, Israeli authorities already released two Israeli activists on bail. One of the released activists, Zuhr Chamberlain Regev, confirmed that several activists were beaten by Israeli forces before being dragged out of the ship to be detained. She continued by saying 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."
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