One of Paul McGeough’s innocent humanitarian heroes from the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla is now under arrest in London following a humanitarian stroll very close to the Prime Minister’s office.
Let’s revisit McGeough’s colourful account of the flotilla’s voyage, which didn’t go exactly to plan:
The Israeli attack was timed for dawn prayers – when a large number of the men aboard the Mavi Marmara were praying on the aft deck of the Turkish passenger ferry, as she motored steadily through international waters in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
The call to prayer could be heard across the water – chords made tinny by the ship’s PA system, yet haunting enough amid tension sparked several hours earlier, when the six ships’ captains in the Free Gaza Flotilla rejected a demand radioed by the Israeli Navy: change course away from the Gaza Strip or be confronted with lethal force …
In the blackness before the rising of a burnt-orange moon, all that could be seen of the Israelis around us were pin-points of light, as warships sitting a kilometre or more either side of the flotilla inched in – seemingly to squeeze the Gaza-bound humanitarian convoy.
Then, the tightening noose. Sneaking up and around every boat, there were bullet-shaped hulks that soon became impossible to hide as the moonlight made fluorescent tubes of their roiling wakes. First one, then two and maybe four could be seen sneaking in from the rear.
They hunted like hyenas – moving up and ahead on the flanks; pushing in, then peeling away; and finally, lagging before lunging. But as they came alongside the Mavi Marmara, the dozen or so helmeted commandos in each assault craft copped the full force of the ferry’s fire hoses and a shower of whatever its passengers found on deck or could break from the ship’s fittings.
Suddenly, sound bombs and tear-gas were exploding on the main aft-deck, where prayers were held five times a day.
Naturally, because he referred to Israelis as vicious carnivores and to the flotilla folk as gentle people of prayer, McGeough was rewarded with a Walkley. Seven years later, a passenger on that humanitarian mission is locked up in London:
A man arrested on suspicion of planning a terrorist act on Thursday, carrying knives near Prime Minister Theresa May’s office, was on a ship raided by Israeli soldiers in 2010, sources familiar with the investigation have told Reuters.
The 27-year-old man was arrested by armed counter-terrorism officers during a stop-and-search as part of an ongoing security operation, British police said.
No one was injured in the incident and police said knives had been recovered from the man, who was being monitored by British intelligence agents and counter-terrorism officers….
Sources told Reuters on Friday the suspect was Khalid Omar Ali from London.
Ali was on board the Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla which was challenging an Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip when it was intercepted by the Israeli Defence Forces in May 2010, the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
But not to worry. He probably still prays five times a day.