updates on the Canadian and Irish boats sailing for Gaza

Canadian activist says he was Tasered by Israeli forces

The family of David Heap is “outraged” after the London, Ont. man claimed Sunday he was Tasered and roughed up by Israeli forces that had seized a vessel bound for Gaza.

The 45-year-old was aboard the Tahrir, a Canadian owned vessel, when it was seized along with an Irish ship as both attempted to carry medical aid to Gaza.

Israeli officials said the ships were intercepted peacefully — but Heap said in a statement released by the group “Canadian Boat to Gaza” that he was brutally taken off the ship.

Calling the seizure an “assault,” Heap said he is now bruised and limping after being forcibly removed from the boat, but is “basically ok.”

Danny Heap said the family is outraged, adding his brother’s teenaged sons were “scared and worried.”

“It seems that, since all the people on the Tahrir had sworn to be non-violent, that the Israeli army was just brutal,” he said. “It’s pretty shocking … when what was on the boat turned out to be medical aid for Gaza.”

Israeli officials were not immediately available to respond to Heap’s claims. Officials from the country have said the navy took action only after repeatedly ordering the vessels to turn around.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird issued a statement Saturday that Canadian diplomats were “liaising with Israeli authorities” to provide consular assistance. There was no reaction from Canadian officials to Heap’s claims of being roughed up by press time Sunday night.

Heap, two other Canadians, and about 20 other activists were arrested by Israel, which has indicated it intends to deport them this week. Danny Heap said his brother will demand he be deported to Gaza.

Heap’s partner spoke with him briefly Sunday morning. Heap told her he has received a visit from a lawyer and from a Canadian consulate official but he is not allowed to speak with others who were arrested Friday.

David and Danny Heap are both sons of Dan Heap, a renowned Toronto activist and retired politician who has been in the news recently as he and his wife struggled to find a spot in a long-term care home.

Shortly before David was born, the senior Heap was protesting discrimination against blacks in Selma, Alabama, alongside Martin Luther King — something Danny said had inspired David.

“He feels like he’s doing the same thing, many years later.”

One of the other Canadians detained, Montrealer Ehab Lotayef, was imprisoned with Heap, his statement suggested. The third Canadian, Karen DeVito, was apparently held separately.


The Obama administration warned U.S.­citizens on the boats that they may face legal action for violating Israeli and American law. The activists include Americans and citizens of eight other countries.


Israeli forces made contact with two ships attempting to sail to Gaza early Friday afternoon, but activists refused their call to turn back or reroute, the army said.

“The vessels are continuing on their route to an area under a maritime security blockade,” an army statement said.

Hebrew-language news site Yedioth Ahronoth reported that forces made contact before boarding the two ships after Israeli military Chief of Staff Benny Gantz ordered the navy to intercept the boats and lead them to Ashdod.

And army spokeswoman to the international media Avital Leibovich said via Twitter that forces had yet to board the vessels.

A live map created by the US-based Electronic Intifada website showed the boats were still in international waters when the Israeli army made contact on Friday afternoon.


Organizers of the Canadian Tahrir and the Irish Saoirse boats, who aim to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, said forces had at 1:12 p.m. Gaza time requested the final destination of the boats via radio contact.

Crew responded “the conscience of humanity,” and upon second request “the betterment of mankind,” media liaison Laurence Davis told Ma’an.

The crews were contacted shortly after viewing two Israeli ships rapidly approaching the flotilla at 48 nautical miles off Gaza’s coast, Davis said.

The Israeli army statement said the navy “advised the vessels that they may turn back at any point, thereby not breaking the maritime security blockade, or sailing to a port in Egypt or the port of Ashdod.”

“The activists refused to cooperate,” it said.

The army later released footage of a sailor making contact.

The boats are carrying 27 people from nine countries.

They set sail to Gaza from Fethiye, Turkey, in a secret launch due to accusations in July that Israel tried to sabotage a previous effort, the activists said in a statement Wednesday.

The latest news from the two boats traveling to Gaza is that they are currently located 100 miles at sea from the Lebanese/Israeli border and are planning to arrive in Palestinian waters near Gaza by 7am (1am our time).  The boats are being shadowed by Israeli warships.  There are a total of 27 people on the two boats.  There are five media representatives on the Tahrir boat including representatives from Democracy Now!, Press TV, Al Jazeera and Canadian media.
The organizers believe that Israelis will either attack the boats in the middle of the night (in international waters) or as they reach Palestinian waters.  WESPAC, Code Pink – NYC and other Palestine Solidarity groups are organizing an emergency support vigil for the passengers on the boats.  This vigil will take place from 5pm to 6:30pm tomorrow, Friday, November 4th across the street from the Israeli Consulate in mid-town Manhattan located at 800 2nd Avenue between 42nd Street and 43rd Street.  Denise with Code Pink NYC will be the point person for this support rally.  She can be reached at deniserr@msn.com.
Felice Gelman is in communication with the flotilla organizers and can give an update, especially to the media, about the status of the flotilla passengers.  She can be reached at 917.912.2597.pp


At 7.30pm tonight (Thursday) the Irish Ship To Gaza shore team were informed that Israeli warships were seen 6 miles from the Irish (MV Saoirse) and Canadian (Tahrir) ships attempting to break the siege of Gaza. The ships are currently in international waters around 200 miles from Gaza. Israeli spotter planes were also observed flying overhead according to Fintan Lane, who is on board the Irish ship Saoirse. Crew and passengers on the boats fear being boarded tonight.


Israel and the U.S. outsourced the siege of GAZA to Athens last summer by preventing 8 boats in the Freedom Flotilla 2 from sailing from Greek ports to Gaza. This just brought more worldwide attention to the blockade and world determination to challenge the illegal siege. So here they go again!!! At this moment, two boats are in international waters in the Mediterranean heading to Gaza. One boat, the Saoirse from Ireland, includes parliamentarians among its passengers. The other, the Tahrir, carries representatives from Canada, the U.S., Australia, and Palestine.

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