Gaza Convoy Activists Claim Israeli Soldiers Using Debit Cards Stolen in Raid

Published on
by
the Guardian/UK

Gaza Convoy Activists Claim Israeli Soldiers Using Debit Cards Stolen in Raid

by
Haroon Siddique

One of the ships impounded by Israel when it raided the flotilla of aid vessels off Gaza. Photograph: Jim Hollander/EPA

Israeli troops have been accused of stealing from activists arrested
in the assault on the Gaza flotilla after
confiscated debit cards belonging to activists were subsequently used.

In
their raid of 31 May, the Israeli army stormed the boats on the
flotilla and, as well as money and goods destined for the Palestinian
relief effort in Gaza, the bulk of which have yet to be returned, took
away most of the personal possessions of the activists when taking them
into custody.

Individual soldiers appear to have used confiscated
debit cards to buy items such as iPod accessories, while mobile phones
seized from activists have also been used for calls.

Ebrahim
Musaji, 23, of Gloucester, has a bank statement showing his debit card
was used in an Israeli vending machine for a purchase costing him 82p on
9 June.

It was then used on a Dutch website, www.thisipod.com,
twice on 10 June: once for amounts equivalent to £42.42 and then for
£37.83. And a Californian activist, Kathy Sheetz, has alleged that she
has been charged more than $1,000 in transactions from vending machines
in Israel since 6 June.

Musaji and
Sheetz were on board two separate boats - one the Mavi Marmara, on
which nine Turkish activists were killed, the other on the Challenger 1.
Both activists only entered Israel when arrested, and were in custody
for their entire time on Israeli soil.

"They've obviously taken my
card and used it," Musaji told the Guardian.

"When they take
things like people's videos and debit cards and use them, and their
mobile phones, it becomes a bit of a joke.

"We were held hostage,
we were attacked, and now there's been theft. If the police confiscate
your goods in the UK, they're not going to use your goods and think they
can get away with it."

Musaji cancelled his card on 7 June, the
day after he returned to Britain, where he is a support worker for
adults with learning difficulties. His bank has agreed to treat the
transactions as fraudulent and he will not be charged for them. His
mobile phone was also used for two short calls in Israel after it had
been confiscated.

Another American activist, David Schermerhorn, 80, from Washington state, claims his
iPhone was used, while Manolo Luppichini, an Italian journalist, said
his card was debited with the equivalent of €54 after it was
confiscated.

Activists say Israel still has possession of at least
£1m of goods and cash, comprising aid and personal possessions,
including laptops and cameras.

Some passports, three of them
belonging to British citizens, have still not been returned. On
Thursday, delegations in 12 countries, including the UK, held meetings
with their respective governments to exert pressure on Israeli to return
the seized property.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy in
London advised Musaji to register a formal complaint.

"We regard
any misconduct as described in Mr Musaji's allegations to be utterly
unacceptable and intolerable, and suggest waiting until this subject
matter is clarified," she said. "As had happened previously, an Israeli
soldier was found guilty of illegal use of a credit card for which he
was indicted and sentenced to seven months' imprisonment."

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