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Israeli Forces Used 'Electro Torture' in Boat Raid: Activists

Common Dreams staff

The Estelle enters the Israeli southern port of Ashdod on October 20 after being intercepted by the Israeli navy in international waters as it tried to reach the Gaza Strip. (Agence-France Presse)

Activists from the Gaza-bound ship that was intercepted by Israeli forces over the weekend now claim that Israeli soldiers used excessive force including the use of tasers when they stormed the ship.

"They used electric shocker devices to the extent of what we call 'electro torture' on some of the activists," lawyer Gaby Lasky told Agence-France Presse, adding that at least one of them is an MP.

Israeli army spokeswoman Avital Leibovich denied the use of "violence" by Israeli soldiers during the operation.

Among the pro-Palestinian activists on the ship were five parliamentarians from Spain, Sweden, Norway and Greece, and a former Canadian lawmaker, Jim Manly.

Those on the ship, the Estelle, were bringing humanitarian aid and supplies to Gaza residents, with the intent of breaking Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

After Israeli forces took control of the ship on Saturday, it was lead to port in Ashdod, Israel, where the activists were arrested.

21 of the activists are being held at Givon prison in Ramle, near Tel Aviv, and will likely be deported.

Several others waived their right to a hearing and have already been deported, or are in the process.

Three of the activists on board were Israeli nationals and will now be tried on charges of incitement, of knowingly aiding an enemy and of violating a legal order.

"We call on the U.S. to use its influence with the Israeli government to ensure the Estelle passengers and crew are treated with dignity, that their rights as non-violent protesters are respected and that they all be released immediately,” said Jane Hirschmann, organizer of the U.S. Boat to Gaza.

"I should say that every time Israel stops a boat, that's another blow to its diminishing legitimacy and another element of support, both to the those who are resisting internally and to those who are opposing the policies outside, and sooner or later the wave will sweep over the barriers," Noam Chomsky, who was visiting Gaza, told a news conference at Gaza port.

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