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Israel English News – Activists who attempted to sail a fishing boat carrying aid to Gaza but were intercepted by the Israeli navy have complained of violence during a boarding operation.

Israel held the 20 foreigners and the boat after they arrived several dozen miles off the coast of Gaza on Sunday and were in the process of releasing and deporting the crew, the group said.

Most of those on board Al Awda, which means The Return in Ar

abic, were held in prison, while two Israelis on the vessel were released on bail.

Freedom Flotilla said the Norwegian-flagged boat had been surrounded by “12 military vessels with hundreds of armed soldiers”.

“Some participants were repeatedly tasered, including in the head. Others were punched or had their head beaten against a wall by IOF soldiers. Zip-cuffs were used in a manner which cut off circulation,” Freedom Flotilla said, referring to Israeli troops as Israel Occupation Forces.

The account appeared to conflict with that of the Israeli military on Sunday, which said the boat was “monitored and was intercepted” and “the activity ended without exceptional events”.

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On Thursday, the military said its forces “used proportional force in order to constrain the provocateurs on board the ship”. It did not say how many activists it had deported or if any remained in custody.

Al Awda was carrying €13,000 (£11,500) worth of medical supplies for Gaza, which were transferred to the enclave by Israeli authorities after the boat was confiscated.

Among those deported was Australian Chris Graham, editor of the independent news website New Matilda. Another crew member, Swee Ang, a British orthopaedic surgeon who helped to establish the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians, said she had also arrived back in the UK.

The boat’s captain accused Israeli authorities of illegally boarding the vessel in international waters. “We were closer to Egypt than Israel,” Herman Reksten said when he returned to Norway. “I still have a headache from being hit in prison.”
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