Video proves ‘breach of illegal blockade’ – video

2011/07/16

 An Israeli Defence Forces  ship circling the MV Finch.

An Israeli Defence Forces ship circling the MV Finch.

KUALA LUMPUR: Even after two months, I can still remember the rush I felt from hearing the sounds of gunshots fired by an Israeli navy ship over the Malaysian humanitarian ship MV Finch on May 16.

I recall vividly the day before the incident when I could barely sleep.
Emotions aside, the spectre of being arrested by the Israelis was real.
On that fateful day at 3am, I joined the other non-essential members of the mission sitting on the open deck of MV Finch as it made its way to Palestinian waters from the El Arish Port waiting area in Egyptian waters.

There, I joined reporters Mohd Faizal Hassan from Bernama and Canadian Julie Lévesque from Global Research, Mohd Radzillah Abdullah from the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Department and Irish humanitarian activist Jenny Graham.
It was a cold night with a visible full moon.
We waited for what seemed to be long hours on a wetmattress laid out on the deck before dawn broke.

This was when we began to see fishing boats with fishermen waving at us. We even passed undetected a stationary Egyptian navy ship.
Then at 6am, the danger began when two Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) ships appeared fleetingly and one of the ships rushed out to intercept us.
At that time, our ship had already entered Palestinian waters, right inside “Security Area L” imposed by Israel to prevent ships from sailing in and out of Gaza port.

MV Finch had sailed almost one mile inside the “security zone” and was approximately 0.5 nautical miles (900m) from the shore, when the IDF spotted our presence and challenged our right to sail to Gaza.
All five of us on deck were watching the approaching IDF ship from the side when suddenly, we heard gunshots from the Israeli ship’s machine gun. Immediately we hit the deck and huddled on the mattress.
My immediate reaction was to promptly delete several important SMS messages in my mobile phone in case the Israelis boarded our ship and arrested us.
But as shots were being fired by the circling IDF boat, my journalistic instincts kicked in.
I decided to record the attack since the TV3 crew from Malaysia were not allowed to join us.
I took outmy compact camera and started filming the IDF b o at .

I had to put it on top of the cargo hold cover and leave it there as I hid myself in order not to attract any lethal fire.
I managed to record the last few shots from the IDF boat as the MV Finch’s captain, Abd Jalil Mansor, turned the ship around and sailed back into Egyptian waters where its navy boat approached us.
Later, I went to the bridge and managed to record a conversation between the IDF and Egyptian navy, with the Israeli side thanking the Egyptian navy ship captain for their assistance.
It was a struggle for me to keep the video footage safe as I made several copies of it and hid it throughout our “illegal detention” outside El Arish Port for weeks.
I safely returned to Malaysia at the end of May. I also had to keep the video safe during the whole month of June as I went to the United States for a month-long course.
The decision to release the video two months after the incident was timely as the Spirit of Rachel Corrie only achieved its final objective of delivering the PVC pipes to the Palestinians on Thursday.
Spirit of Rachel Corrie mi ssion leader Matthias Chang said the video was irrefutable evidence that the mission had embarrassed the IDF.
“I have seen the video and it was the most compelling piece of evidence that we caught the IDF navy with their pants down,” said Chang to the New Straits Times ye s t e r d ay.
He said the video was proof that MV Finch wa s the first cargo ship to breach the illegal Israeli security zone in Gazan waters.
“We managed to penetrate their surveillance. What we did was historic, we were the first cargo ship to successfully break the siege into Gaza waters.”

 

 

This exclusive video will be available today at the New Straits Times website at http://www.nst.com.my by clicking on NST TV. — By Alang Bendahara

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