Defending their illegal blockade of Gaza against what they see as infiltrators rather than activists bringing aid and making a point, Israeli soldiers physically assaulted a number of delegates and arrested them, including a USS Liberty survivor.
By Ann Wright
U.S. Navy Signalman Joe Meadors was standing watch on deck of the USS Liberty off the coast of Gaza on June 8, 1967 when a 90-minute aerial and sea attack by Israel against the ship killed 34 U.S. sailors and wounded 174 . Meadors watched as the Israeli military almost sank the Liberty and began machine-gunning the lifeboats. A 2003 U.S. commission led by Admiral Thomas Moorer found Israel guilty of the attack. But the motive is still shrouded in mystery.
Fifty-one years later, on July 29, Meadors was again on board a ship in international waters, again off the coast of Gaza. And once again Israel brutally attacked his ve. But this time Israel’s motive was clear. Meadors was aboard an unarmed civilian boat named Al Awda that was trying to break Israel’s seven-year old illegal blockade of Gaza.
Meadors said six large patrol craft and four zodiac boats appeared when the Al Awda was 49 nautical miles off Gaza. While one group of crew and passengers protected the pilot house, Meadors said the Israeli forces who stormed the boat then beat the captain, hitting him and knocking his head against the sides of the ship. The captain was threatened with being brought down below to be killed, according to a Facebook post in Hebrew by Yonatan Shapira, one of two Israeli citizen delegates onboard. Both were arrested with everyone on board but were the first to be released. Shapira’s Facebook message was translated by Ofer Neiman for Mondoweiss.
Four crew members and delegates were tasered by Israeli forces. One crew member was repeatedly tasered on the head and neck and another also received multiple taser shocks, said Shapira. Both were in serious medical condition and were semi-conscious during the seven hour trip to Givon prison in Ashdod, Israel. An IDF Spokesperson said: “The overtaking of the Al-Awda ship was carried…