UPDATE (11:48am 31st July NZ time)
We have now received a direct report from Mike in Givon Prison.
He was tasered repeatedly by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) while in the wheelhouse of the Al Awda and subsequently tightly handcuffed. He received injuries to his face and head and was bleeding but is now recovering.
Of Mike’s fellow flotilla members one was tasered in the head, a 69 year old female surgeon received a head injury and a senior Canadian passenger was received a foot injury and had to be treated in hospital.
The IOF takeover of the boat conducted by armed and masked soldiers was clearly violent with many passengers & crew assaulted, roughly handled and hit.
Local civil rights lawyers met with all those detained a few hours ago. All their belongings, including their passports have been seized and not returned, despite promises they would if they co-operated.
Despite KiaOra Gaza contacting the New Zealand Hon. Consul in Tel Aviv requesting assistance we are unaware of any contact, visit or action from the New Zealand Government or its representatives to assist.
(update at 4pm Monday 31st July - The Honorary Consul has now been to see Mike. Winston Peters has responded to the letters sent to him but the Government has taken no specific action apart from alerting the Cairo embassy to Mike's situation).
The next flotilla boat, the “Freedom” continues to approach Gaza.
Previous report (6.15am 31st July NZ time)
Eyewitnesses report that Unite Union leader Mike Treen’s boat was hijacked in a violent raid and that he and the rest of the crew are being held in Givon prison, near Tel Aviv.
Two Israeli citizens who were on board have been charged and released on bail and, contrary to the Israeli military’s claim that the raid on the Al Awda was “without exceptional incident”, Zohar Chamberlain Regev, the boat leader, reports that at the time of boarding: “People on board were tasered and hit by masked IOF soldiers. We did not get our passports or belongings before we got off the boat. Do not believe reports of peaceful interception.”
Mr Regev also reports seeing blood on the deck of the Al Awda as the last participants were being dragged off the ship, which is very alarming given the extreme violence shown by Israel to past flotillas. We are awaiting information about Mike’s condition, charges he may face and what the Israeli’s intend to do with the remaining 20 flotilla participants they have imprisoned.
The international Freedom Flotilla have engaged local lawyers who are trying to gain access to them.
The New Zealand Freedom Flotilla organiser, Roger Fowler QSM, has written to Gad Propper, the New Zealand Honorary Consul in Tel Aviv requesting assistance, particularly information about Mike’s situation and condition including his health, any medical treatment he may need, any charges he may be facing, and if he has been allowed to legal assistance (see below).
Unite National Secretary Gerard hehir is calling on the Acting Prime Minister to condemn the Israeli actions in the strongest way:
“This was a violent military attack on a civilian vessel and a violation of international law. Forcibly taking Mike Treen from international waters to a country which is not their destination is an act of kidnapping, which is also unlawful under the international Convention of the Law of Sea.”
“it is interesting that the two Israeli citizens released on bail have been charged with trying to enter Gaza. Not only does Israel not want the world to see what it is doing to the people of Gaza, but it makes it illegal for its own citizens to go there and see for themselves. So much for freedom and democracy in Israel”.
Freedom Flotilla Media release https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/news/2-released-but-most-participants-in-still-in-prison-grave-concern-for-safety-and-cargo
NZ Honorary Consul
Dear Mr Propper,
I write as campaign organiser for NZ citizen, Michael Gerard Treen who has been detained by Israeli authorities after the flotilla boat, the Al Awda, that he was aboard, was intercepted by Israeli forces recently.
I have had no communication with Mr Treen since he was detained. I understand he may be held at Givon.
Can you please contact him as soon as possible and offer him whatever assistance and advise that you and your office may be able to provide in the circumstances.
Please advise me of his situation and condition including his health, any medical treatment he may need, any charges he may be facing, and if he has legal assistance.
Please also advise on the likely options and process he faces to be released and returned home.
Roger Fowler QSM,