Activists describe 'nightmare' of Israeli raid on flotilla

Activists caught up in the storming of the Gaza aid flotilla recounted their experiences as their colleagues continued to return home.

Dundee-based Ali El-Awaisi, 21, who was on board the Mavi Marmara ship intercepted by armed soldiers, landed at Glasgow Airport yesterday afternoon.

He was the third Scots activist to be reunited with loved ones following Israel's bloody raid on the flotilla last week, which left nine people dead.

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Mr El-Awaisi talked to reporters immediately after his arrival, speaking of the treatment he suffered at the hands of Israeli forces.

"We never knew that they were going to come so far away from their land into international waters and attack us," he said.

"They knew we were civilians, they did not give us any advanced warning at all that they were going to attack us.

"They were shooting rounds, and it wasn't one or two rounds. They were shooting hundreds of rounds per minute.

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"Seeing the amount of blood that I saw, I couldn't even sleep. I was having nightmares."

"It was treating us as if we committed a crime. Is it a crime to go and help orphans?" he asked rhetorically. "Is it a crime to go and help children that are in need?

"Palestine is my land and I want to go back to it."

Postal worker Theresa McDermott, 43, from Edinburgh, was on the Challenger, another of the boats in the convoy.

She returned to Scotland on Friday. Yesterday she said: "We only had a small taste of what the Palestinians have to go through on a daily basis.

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"What happened to us was bad, but what happens to the Palestinians is always worse."

The two activists – and the first Scot to return home, 45-year-old Hasan Nowarah, of Glasgow – all vowed to return to the area, despite their experiences.

Mr El-Awaisi said: "Even after everything I've been through, I'd still go back again.

"My mission was not done. I set out from Dundee to deliver the aid that we'd collected to deliver to these people. It has not reached them, so my mission's not complete."

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Ms McDermott added: "I think us normal people have to keep reaching out to the normal people of Palestine. If we don't, these people just feel abandoned, forgotten and hopeless."

A fourth Scot, Hassan Ghani, 25, a journalist from Glasgow, should come home this week.

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Miliband yesterday described Israel's raid on the aid flotilla as a "disaster".

He said: "It has been a disaster for the people involved, obviously those many killed and injured, and it has also been a disaster for Israel.

"I think there have been a series of deadly and self-defeating actions by successive Israeli governments in respect of Gaza."