We saw nothing - Gaza flotilla activists

2010-10-25 19:16


Jerusalem - The first passengers from a Gaza-bound aid ship to testify on the deadly operation were on Monday unable to answer the key question of who started the violence that left nine Turkish activists dead.

Two Arab-Israeli men, Mohammed Zedan and Sheikh Hamad Abu Daabis, were both on the flagship Mavi Marmara when it was seized as part of the May 31 raid on a six-ship flotilla which was trying to run Israel's Gaza blockade.

"I cannot tell you regarding who attacked first, who beat up whom first. I did not see with my own eyes," said Daabis, who said they were at pre-dawn prayers when the commandos boarded the vessel.

"We heard a very loud explosion which shook the ship. We did not know where it was coming from," he told the Tirkel Commission.

Until Monday, the four-member panel had not heard any first-hand testimony from people directly involved in the clashes on board the Mavi Marmara, although the panel on Sunday urged more passengers to come forward and testify.

The commission, which the Israeli government set up in June, has a mandate to look into the legality of the raid in which nine Turkish activists were shot dead.

Israel says its soldiers fired in self-defence after they were attacked with clubs and knives, but activists say the Israelis opened fire as soon as they rappelled from helicopters on to the Mavi Marmara's upper deck.

Soldiers barred

The army has also barred soldiers who took part in the raid from testifying before the commission, allowing only Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to give evidence twice.

On Monday the two witnesses said immediately after the commotion started that they went inside the ship on instructions from the captain and could not see much.

"I heard helicopters overhead and heard shooting. I did not see what was going on," said Zedan.

The two Arab-Israelis had been due to testify on October 13 but did not show up because they did not want to be seen as co-operating with what they saw as a biased committee.

But they were compelled to appear on Monday after being subpoenaed.

The committee on Sunday put out an appeal for anyone who was a passenger on board the Marmara to come forward and testify.

"The Tirkel Commission would like to receive testimony from any passenger who was on the Mavi Marmara on the night of May 31 and who has relevant information that could shed light on" the investigation, the statement said.

Captain invited

Anyone interested in testifying was asked to contact panel spokesperson Ofer Lefler via the website.

The commission has previously invited the ship's Turkish captain, as well as other Turkish nationals who were on board the ship, to testify, but so far no one has responded.

The panel also heard testimony on Monday from opposition leader Tzipi Livni who said she backed Israel's action to stop the fleet from reaching the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, media reports said.

She also said the reason the flotilla won so much international support was because of the "political vacuum" in the peace process with the Palestinians, Ynet news website quoted her as saying.

Livni was the latest in a line of Israeli officials who have appeared before the panel in the past two months, among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Ashkenazi, who on Sunday testified for the second time.

The deadly raid sparked international outrage and led Israel to ease a four-year blockade of Gaza to allow in all purely civilian goods as well as construction materials for internationally supervised projects.

Read more on:    israel  |  gaza aid ship

Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24


'Zuma's legacy will be judged by Nkandla'

The legacy of President Jacob Zuma is contingent on how he deals with the issue of upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, says Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Y

The Samsung Y (Young) is tiny but powerful with Android...

From R1499.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.