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Gaza activists reveal Israel ordeal


Activist Cliff Hanley described how he was clipped by a bullet

Activist Cliff Hanley described how he was clipped by a bullet

Activist Cliff Hanley described how he was clipped by a bullet

British activists held by Israel following the storming of an aid flotilla heading for the Gaza Strip have spoken of their terrifying ordeal.

Cliff Hanley, from Bristol, and Ebrahim Musaji, from Gloucester, arrived home on Sunday a week after Israeli commandos intercepted their ship in the Mediterranean - leaving nine activists dead.

Both men were on board the Mava Marmara ship when it was boarded in the early hours of May 31.

Speaking at a press conference in Bristol, Mr Hanley, 61, recalled the moment the gunfire began and he was clipped by a bullet.

He said: "I got up at about 4am and went out on to the deck. There was nothing much you could see, just the lights from the other boats in the convoy. Then I heard the very light whirring of a helicopter coming from the darkness. The next thing the helicopter was above our heads.

"I could see under the floodlights on the helicopters, little gun ships on the water. I heard the rat-a-tat of machine guns. There were bombs going off - or at least sound bombs."

Mr Hanley, an epilepsy sufferer, said he saw a fellow activist taking photos of the action and positioned himself behind him. "He became an obvious target for the guns. They started to shoot at him, and so as I was behind him they were shooting at me. I felt something graze my arm, like someone had clapped me on the arm."

Mr Hanley was subsequently held in what he described as a "tent city" set up in the port of Ashdod, before being allowed to leave on a flight to Turkey. Mr Musaji, a social worker, was less fortunate.

After a harrowing ordeal on board the Mava Marmara, he was then transferred to Be'er Sheva prison and held without access to the British Consulate.

Mr Musaji said when the gunfire began, he sought cover on the upper deck, with the captain of the ship. It was here Mr Musaji saw the body of one of the activists killed, and broke down in tears as he recalled his experience. "He was not armed, he was shot from the helicopter," he said. "He was shot right in the head."

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