Israel accused of piracy
An Irish activist seized by Israeli authorities in a commando operation on an aid flotilla has accused armed forces of carrying out an act of piracy.
Dublin-based Shane Dillon demanded the Israeli government lift its controversial blockade and allow the Irish ship MV Rachel Corrie to deliver aid to Gaza.
Describing the dramatic moments the Challenger 1 came under attack, he said the ship was surrounded by blacked-out vessels and helicopters before armed forces launched an assault at close range with stun guns and high-powered paintball pellets.
"I wouldn't call them soldiers, they are terrorists," said the emotional 36-year-old. "They attacked us in international waters. That was a pure act of piracy in international waters on a peace fleet."
Mr Dillon touched down in Dublin Airport late on Tuesday night still in the green T-shirt and torn combats he wore when captured on Monday morning. He angrily denied accusations activists had weapons on board the ships.
"The weapons the Israelis displayed were cooking knives, a hammer. This was a big merchant ship, of course it's going to have a hammer, of course it's going to have galley knives," he said.
He called on the Irish government to refer the incident with the Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in Kuala Lumpur and demand the Rachel Corrie is granted entry to Gaza. The defiant seafarer also challenged the Israeli government.
"Cop on, grow up, it's about time you let people be treated well and treated properly and stop this stupid siege and blockade on a nation of people," he said.
The crewman - who has served as chief officer on Irish and British merchant ships - maintained the fleet had expected to be let though the blockade.
"We didn't expect it to be so severe and a severe loss of life. That was just ridiculous, it's very sad," he continued. "My heart goes out to the brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers and the families of those who died."