Lebanese ship at Ashdod port
Photo: Avi Rokach

Ship activists held by Israel return to Lebanon

All 18 people aboard ship carrying aid to Gaza expelled to different destinations, apparently according to nationality; ' It was a long and difficult ordeal,' Al-Jazeera reporter says

Ten activists and journalists detained by the Israeli navy on a cargo ship carrying humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip have returned to Lebanon, security officials and activists said.


The nine Lebanese and a Palestinian resident of Lebanon arrived early Friday, with the help of the UN peacekeeping force, across the Lebanese-Israeli border at the coastal town of Naqoura.


The 10 were among 18 activists and crew held for several hours after their ship was seized by the Israeli navy enforcing a blockade of the Palestinian territory.


All 18 people aboard were expelled to different destinations, apparently according to nationality.


Lebanese TV station Al-Jadeed said one of the passengers, 86-year-old former Greek Catholic archbishop of Jerusalem Hillarion Capucci, was taken to the Golan Heights where he crossed into Syria.


Three others were to be flown out to London early Friday, Israeli officials have said.


It was not immediately clear where the four other people detained were headed.


"It was long and difficult," Salam Khoder, correspondent for the pan-Arab al-Jazeera television, said of the ordeal.


She and Hani Suleiman, one of the organizers, charged the Israelis intercepted and detained the ship and its passengers in Egyptian territorial waters.


Speaking on al-Jazeera at the border crossing, she said Israeli navy opened fire three times. Later, about 25 soldiers boarded the ship.


Soldiers hit her, she said, along with another female reporter for Lebanese TV al-Jadeed, Ugarith Dandash, as well as Suleiman.


Those aboard were blindfolded, handcuffed and separated, Khoder said. Then they were interrogated by plainclothes agents and their belongings and equipment taken away. They were later taken to Israel's port of Ashdod along with the ship.


Israeli officials weren't immediately available for comment.


The activists refused to answer questions, Khoder said.


פרסום ראשון: 02.06.09, 08:34
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