IDF and police forces continued efforts Tuesday to bring the 500 passengers of the Mavi Marmara ship to Ashdod port.
Hundreds disembarked at the dock, including seven Israelis. Four of them were arrested, among them the head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, Sheikh Raed Salah, who was taken in for questioning.
Hundreds of soldiers and officers are on the scene, working with officials from the Immigration Authority. In contrast to Monday's occurrences, the disembarking took place peacefully.
The IDF is therefore assuming that the violence was instigated by the nine dead and 37 injured currently hospitalized in Israel. Five soldiers are also still being treated for wounds.
At the port, each passenger is taken from the ship separately, accompanied by a number of officers. "Some of the more provocative ones are handcuffed," explained one army official. He added that many would undergo interrogation, in order to ascertain which organization they belonged to.
Upon disembarking, officials said, the passengers will each be questioned and then transferred to Ela Prison in Beersheba. Those who refuse to identify themselves will undergo a biometric process including facial photographs and fingerprints.
According to the IDF official, the detainees come from 40 different countries. Among them is a two-year old child. He said that after they finish disembarking forces will search the ship for other weapons.
The Immigration Authority says there were 679 people in all aboard the flotilla's boats, most of them Turkish and Greek. Citizens of Serbia, Oman, Pakistan, Malaysia, Macedonia, Yemen, Kosovo, and Bahrain were also on board.
MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad), who was also on board, was taken in for questioning at the Ashdod port before being released. Her party published a statement saying, "Those who should be questioned are Barak and Netanyahu, who gave the order for an armed takeover in the middle of the sea. Behind this crime are criminals who should be interrogated."
Flotilla passengers taken to prison (Photo: Hertzl Yosef)
Prisoners: We want shower, sleep
The first detainees from the Marmara arrived at Ela Prison late Monday evening, and joined their colleagues from other boats who arrived there during the day.
The windows of their bus were blackened in order to keep cameramen from photographing their faces, and the press was kept inside an enclosed space to keep reporters from having contact with the prisoners.
Armed officers were on the scene, but the prisoners made no effort to rebel. "We're tired," one of them said. "We just want to take a shower and go to sleep."
The Marmara passengers are the first to be detained at Ela, which was established by a private company but, following a High Court order, given over to the Prison Service one month ago. It boasts 800 beds in cells of two or four.
Israeli-Arab passengers of the flotilla were not taken to Ela, but rather transferred to the police. It is unclear as yet what awaits the foreigners, whether deportation or criminal charges of some sort.
Ilana Curiel, Amnon Meranda, Raanan Ben-Zur, Sharon Roffe-Ofir, Shmulik Hadad, and Meital Yasur Beit-Or contributed to this report