By Frank Moher
In an interview with Zoe Blunt published at pacificfreepress.com, Canadian human rights activist Kevin Neish reports that he was on board the Gaza aid ship that was stormed by Israeli commandos, and that soldiers began firing from helicopters above the ship as the raid began.
His account is corroborated by an interview with Al Jazeera producer Jamal ElShayyal, who was among reporters filing live from the Mavi Marmara as it was attacked in international waters:
ElShayyal reports that the first live fire came from the air. “One of the people who was killed was clearly shot from above. The bullet targeted him at the top of his head. There was also fire coming from the sea as well.
“There is no doubt from what I saw that live ammunition was fired before any Israeli soldier was on deck.”
Israel has asserted that it did not begin firing live weapons until after the guns of two soldiers on board were taken by passengers.
Neish tells the Pacific Free Press that Turkish activists were severely beaten by the soldiers, and that he was “brutalized.” Writes Blunt: “His captors menaced him with assault rifles and attack dogs. and repeatedly threatened to kill him.
“They would not allow Neish or the other prisoners to sleep while they were in custody.”
Al Jazeera’s ElShayyal reports that passengers “weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom or they were kicked around or their arms tied to the extent that you could see the blood pressure really rising.”
Neish denies that passengers were armed or that they attacked the soldiers. However, ElShayyal says that “the passengers took apart some of the railing bars on the side of the the ships and they used them to fend off the Israeli commandos as they tried to get on, and I did see a number of Israeli soldiers being beaten by them.”
Video released by Israel Defense Forces appears to show some passengers on deck attacking soldiers with bars and deck chairs.
Calling from the Istanbul airport on Wednesday night, Neish said a crowd of 25,000 met the plane carrying the released prisoners and the bodies of the nine Turks killed by the Israelis He said he is considering staying in Turkey to attend the funerals of his former shipmates, and he has not finalized his plans to return to Victoria.