Campaigners feared for lives in 'brutal' ordeal
Published 05/06/2010 | 05:00
TWO Irish campaigners deported from Israel told yesterday how they were beaten and repeatedly threatened while in custody after they were taken from the flotilla of boats that has caused international controversy.
Fiachra O Luain (28) and Dr Fintan Lane (43) arrived back in Dublin airport yesterday and said they had both feared for their lives during the incident, which resulted in their deportation from Israel to Turkey.
Mr O Luain said he was "brutalised" while in custody in Ben Gurion Airport and said there were bruises all around his body.
When he was initially taken from the boat, he refused to talk to anyone apart from a lawyer.
"As soon as one of them grabbed me, about 15 or 20 jumped me, kicked me, punched me as soon as I hit the ground," he said.
"They had my arm in stress positions, they tried to break my finger."
He said he feared for his life during his time in custody and at one stage asked to see a rabbi.
"I asked to see a rabbi and they told me I would only see a rabbi when they killed me," Mr O Luain, from Co Donegal, said.
He said they were repeatedly threatened and he had his passport taken from him.
His mother Eleanor Lamb said last Monday -- when the boats were raided -- had been "absolute hell".
Both he and Dr Lane, who were on board the Challenger vessel, were welcomed into Dublin airport by a crowd from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC).
Dr Lane, a historian from Co Cork, said he had refused to sign any documentation from the Israeli security services and repeated that he was being kept in the country against his will.
When the vessel he was on was stormed, he said the Israeli boats surrounded their vessel "like hyenas" and at one point a soldier told him to move a few inches with such aggression that he believed his life was under threat. "I believe that soldier would have shot me," he said.
Another man who holds an Irish passport and was on board the vessels, Isam Bin Ali, described the Israelis as being "like mafia" during the storming of the flotilla.