Brit activists slowly make their way home from Israel

Israeli Defence Forces board the aid ship last Monday
Israeli Defence Forces board the aid ship last Monday

By Ian Dunt

The first trickle of British activists arrested on board the Turkish aid ships at the centre of an international crisis have finally begun returning to the UK.

Israeli forces boarded the ships in a bid to prevent them breaking the blockade of Gaza on Monday, killing nine people on board and injuring several others.

Hasan Norawah was the first Brit to arrive home, being greeted by his family at Glasgow airport.

But most British detainees were deported to Turkey and left to make their own way back.

Thirty-seven people with British passports reached Turkey yesterday, where they were met with a heroes' welcome as the crowd sang songs and deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc praised their campaign.

British activist Sarah Colbourne told the BBC: "I couldn't even count the amount of ships that were in the water. It was literally bristling with ships, helicopters and gunfire. It was horrific, absolutely horrific."

The activists were on three aircraft chartered by Turkey to get people out of the country. Turkish-Israeli relations are the main casualty of the row. Israel is now completely isolated in the Middle East, having alienated its only ally in the region.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu branded criticism of Israel's actions "international hypocrisy".

Attention now turns to the Rachel Corrie, a boat carrying aid to Gaza together with 11 people, one of whom is Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire. Originally part of the flotilla, it suffered technical problems and was delayed.

The ship could be in the region as early as Saturday, Activists insist they will disregard the blockade and Israel insists it will not be allowed to dock in Gaza.


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