DemocracyNow.org - The Israeli government continues to detain a number of passengers seized in international waters Friday while trying to challenge the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza. The passengers were on two boats -- one from Canada and the other from Ireland -- as part of the “Freedom Waves to Gaza” flotilla -- which aimed to port in Gaza. According to flotilla organizers, some 20 activists are believed to remain in custody after refusing to sign statements asserting they had entered Israel illegally. Flotilla organizers have accused the Israeli military of abusing the activists, with allegations of physical assault and the use of tasers. Democracy Now! correspondent Jihan Hafiz was among those detained in the Israeli interception of the Gaza-bound ships despite her press credentials. While jailed, Hafiz says an Iraeli official told her, “the Israeli government does not see my reporting, or Democracy Now!’s, as reporting, as journalism. It’s to them activism. They said that this form of journalism is actually activism.” Hafiz had been filing daily reports for Democracy Now! from the Canadian ship named “Tahrir.” She spent three nights behind bars, where she was strip-searched and denied phone calls to relatives for 48 hours. She was finally deported Monday night and arrived in New York City just hours ago. Israel has not returned her $20,000 worth of equipment or footage. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, Hafiz describes what took place on Friday and her detention. “All of the [Israeli] commandos on all of these boats were heavily armed. They did not look like they were taking two much smaller boats, filled with unarmed people, with activists and civilians. They looked like they were taking on an army of a foreign country,” says Hafiz, noting the soldiers pointed their guns at the heads of those on board.
For the complete interview, read the transcript, download the podcast, and for additional reports about the flotilla and years of Democracy Now! reports on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, visit democracynow.org/
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