Two Israeli-Arabs who were aboard the Turkish Mavi Marmara testified before Turkel Commission on Monday, and recounted their experiences during the May 31 Navy interception of the Gaza-bound vessel.
An Israeli-Arab, Muhammad Zaidan, who was aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was overtaken by the Israeli Navy, told the Turkel Commission on Monday that Israeli soldiers refused to offer treatment to wounded passengers on the boat for at least one hour.
Zaidan said that he and about 250 other passengers remained below deck, in a large room where they slept during the seizure of the boat. He said he did not see the takeover of the boat by the soldiers, however, during the takeover, about 20 wounded passengers entered the room. Many of them were bleeding, he added. Zaidan said Israeli soldiers stood outside the door talking to each other but did not enter the room and did not extend help.
At one point he maintained, MK Haneen Zoabi went up to the soldiers with a sign asking them to look after the wounded. The soldiers, he continued, ordered her to return to her place and did nothing.
Commission member Miguel Deutsh asked Zaidan about reports that had been broadcast and videotaped, according to which Zoabi had refused to allow Israeli soldiers to treat the wounded passengers. Zaidan said he had seen the clips but knew nothing about them and insisted that the soldiers had rejected Zoabi's request for help.
The members of the commission tried to pin Zaidan down regarding who were the organizers of the flotilla and particularly the Mavi Marmara, which was by far the largest and the most violent of the six ships in the flotilla.
Zaidan said he had been invited to join the voyage by a non-political human rights group in Gaza which was connected to the Free Gaza Movement. He continually referred to the organizers of the ship, but refused to say who they were or who they were affiliated with. The ship in fact flew the flag of the Turkish Islamic IHH movement.
Zaidan insisted that he was a participant in the flotilla but not an organizer. He said the aim of the flotilla was to show the Gazan population that the world was concerned with their plight and charged that Gazans were dieing of hunger and cold.
The testimonies came hours after opposition leader Tzipi Livni testified before the commission, voicing strong support for the legitimacy of Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip.
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