'I tried to reason with them, but they attacked us'
Published 04/06/2010 | 05:00
AN Irish peace activist who was aboard one of the ships in the Gaza flotilla has said Israeli commandos attacked them with full force and were responsible for the "massacre" which resulted in nine deaths.
Speaking from Istanbul yesterday, Dr Fintan Lane said he had been assaulted, humiliated and kidnapped by the Israeli forces.
Dr Lane was on the 'Challenger 1' vessel, which was part of the flotilla of boats impounded by the Israelis.
"There is no excuse. They had no excuse to attack ships in international waters. It was a massacre," he said.
All Irish passport holders involved in the incident have been accounted for following the events which resulted in international condemnation of the Middle Eastern state.
Dr Lane, whose family is from Cork, and fellow campaigner Fiachra O'Luain arrived in Istanbul on special Turkish Airways flights early yesterday morning from Israel. They deferred their trip home to attend some of the funerals of those killed and are now expected to fly into Dublin Airport this afternoon.
Another Irish passport-holder, Almadi al Harati, is to be treated in Ankara after he suffered a diabetes-related seizure while returning from Israel.
An Australia-based journalist, Paul McGeough, has returned home, while another man, Nabil Hallak, has gone back to the Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Ken O'Keeffe, an American man with an Irish passport, was still in Israel yesterday due to a problem with his documents.
The last remaining Irish passport holder, Isam Bin Ali, returned to the UK before travelling on to Ireland. The first person to arrive back in Ireland earlier this week was activist Shane Dillon.
Dr Lane said he was assaulted: "When they boarded our boat, we resisted entirely peacefully. I sat on the floor and tried to reason with them, but the Israeli commandos physically attacked us," he said.
"Fiachra was dragged around the ground and I had a gun pointed in my face by a screaming commando. His mania was so intense that I genuinely feared for my life."
Mr O'Luain, from Carndonagh, Co Donegal, was being brought in handcuffs to the airport in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night when he was involved in a skirmish with the police force.
"He demanded legal representation so they decided to rough him up.
"His elbows and shoulders and arms have been strained because they pushed him around in the handcuffs so he is a bit bruised," said his mother Eleanor Lamb yesterday.