VIDEO - Along with controversial pictures of beaten IDF commandoes, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet on Sunday published an interview with a number of activists that were onboard the Mavi Marmara boat, in which they describe in detail how they overpowered three navy commandoes during the IDF raid.
One of the activists, who identified himself as Mahir Tan, said, "The three Israeli commandoes were helpless in our hands, the lives of these children were at our discretion."
Mahir Tan recounted how he snatched one of the soldier's guns and "another volunteer tossed the weapon into the sea. We didn’t think of using the weapons against the Israelis that killed two of our brothers.
"As a former commando I could have used the weapon in a skilled manner, but because we were the defenders of the ship, we didn’t do it. I took the gun, unloaded it and kept it as proof to Israel's
villainy – and that they intended to kill me," he added.
The activists continued to describe the chain of events, "I looked into the eyes of these three children, and saw panic. They had no hope of staying alive. They looked like kids that were scared of their angry father, but they were not facing a ruthless enemy such as themselves. One of the women onboard gave them first aid; they got bruises and marks but stayed alive, unlike the activists that were murdered," he said.
|Video: Reuters and IDF Spokesperson's Unit|
"Despite the grief and anger we felt toward our brothers – we set them fee," Mahir Tan noted, "The commandoes were the murderers and we were the defenders. We fought to protect our lives. We didn’t fight for the cargo on the ship, or for the Palestinian people, but for justice and humanity. They treated us very badly, like dogs – even the women and elderly. They didn’t let us go to the bathroom or offer us food or water."
Kenneth O'Keefe, who was included on the terrorist list published by the IDF, claimed the commandoes were taken to the bottom of the ship after their weapons were tossed to the sea. "The lives of the three commandoes were at our mercy – we could have done with them whatever we wanted."
O'Keefe described the seizure of the soldiers, "I took one of their guns, and another activist grabbed him. He had a 9mm gun. We didn’t use the weapons against the Israeli soldiers. I unloaded the magazine and took out the bullets – we didn’t come here to fight," he said.
Eventually, O'Keefe added, they decided to release the soldiers unharmed. "They looked at us, and thought we were about to kill them, but then we let them go," he said.
O'Keefe, 41, is a former Marine, and was defined
by the IDF as "a radical Anti-Israeli Hamas activist, whose aim was to train and form a Hamas commando unit in the Gaza Strip."
After arriving in Turkey with a bruised face, O'Keefe claimed he was beaten repeatedly by security officers at Ben Gurion airport. "Of course it cannot be compared to what others go through. The Palestinians are subject to this treatment on a daily basis. This is all I have – my blood, my clothes soaked with blood. Israel took all the rest, including my Palestinian passport."
The IDF Spokesperson Unit told Ynet in response that "based on a preliminary checks, the IDF did not escort the activists at the airport."
Meanwhile, the airport authorities said they were not familiar with the case.
Eli Senyor contributed to this report