Soldiers wouldn’t allow aid, flotilla participants tell panel

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Two Arab-Israel passengers on a Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla testified that Israeli soldiers did not allow injured passengers to receive medical attention.

The two passengers, who failed to appear before the Turkel Commission after being subpoenaed last week, testified Monday before the panel investigating the flotilla incident.

Arab-Israeli lawmaker Hanin Zoabi of the Arab Balad Party, who also participated in the May 31 flotilla that was intercepted by the Israeli Navy, leading to the death of nine passengers on one of the ships, attended the hearing but was not asked to speak. Her participation in the flotilla sparked calls from Israeli lawmakers to have her ejected from the Knesset.

Muhammad Zidan, head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, told the commission that soldiers who boarded the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara refused to allow treatment for the wounded boat passengers for at least an hour, despite the intercession of Zoabi. 

The men refused to name the organizers of the flotilla, saying they were invited to join by a non-political human rights group in Gaza that was connected to the Free Gaza Movement.

The men testified several hours after opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who said that "In the absence of a peace process, with Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians unclear, Turkey was able to fill a political vacuum by engineering provocations." She defended Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza.
 

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