Survivor testimonies

For three days as they were held in captivity and unable to speak on their own behalf, Israel presented the massacre against civilian passengers on the Mavi Marmara as self defense against a “lynching.” Now that the passengers are returning to their home nations, the global community is hearing a much different story, not just regarding the incident but also their treatment afterwards once in custody.

Aboard the Mavi Marmara


Iara Lee

Brazilian Filmmaker (based in San Francisco)


"(The attack) was a surprise, because it happened in the middle of the night, in the darkness, in international waters, because we knew there would be a confrontation but not in international waters. Their first tactic was to cut all of our satellite communications and then they attacked. All I witnessed first hand was the shooting. They came on board and started shooting at people."

"We expected them to shoot people in the legs, to shoot in the air, just to scare people, but they were direct," "Some of them shot in the passengers' heads. Many people were murdered – it was unimaginable."

Norman Paech

Retired German Parliamentarian and Professor


"We had not prepared in any way to fight. We didn't even consider it because we knew very well that we would have absolutely no chance against soldiers like this.”

"The Israeli government justifies the raid because they were attacked. This is absolutely not the case."

Inge Hoeger

German Parliamentarian


"We felt like we were in a war, like we were being kidnapped." "Nobody had a weapon."

Annette Groth

German Parliamentarian


“The Israeli claim that its commandos acted in self-defence was ‘ridiculous’".

"It was like war," "They had guns, Taser weapons, some type of teargas and other weaponry, compared to two-and-a-half wooden sticks we had between us. To talk of self-defence is ridiculous."

"The scandal is that we have to fight the Israeli images only with words.," The Israelis confiscated all the activists' cameras, computers, and mobile phones.

Sarah Colborne

United Kingdom


“The Israeli forces handcuffed members of the activists' medical team who were sent to help treat the injured. It was terrifying...If you talked they pointed a gun at you."

"We wrote a sign in Hebrew saying, 'SOS! Need medical assistance. People are dying. Urgent' Hanin Zoabi, who’s a Knesset member, an Israeli Knesset member, took that sign to the front—to the back of the boat, where the soldiers were pointing at her. They ordered her to go back."

Haneen Zuaby

Minister, Israeli Knesset


“The Israeli navy fired on the ships five minutes before commandos descended from ropes that dangled from helicopters. “

The Israeli-Arab legislator said Israeli forces ignored her when she said that they should treat two gravely injured people, who later bled to death.

Matthias Gardel

Acclaimed Swedish Academic


“People were not allowed to go to the lavatories - they were made to soil their clothes.” Gardel was especially horrified by witnessing the experience of a badly wounded man in his late 50s, who the Israeli troops forced to remain on the open deck. "Suddenly, his right eye exploded in a gush of blood - and a blob of something fell out of it."

Jamal El-Shayyal

Journalist from Al Jazeera


" this attack started I was on the top deck and within just a few minutes there were live shots being fired from above the ship from above from where the helicopters were."

"The first shots that were fired were some sort of sound grenades. There was some tear gas that was fired as well as rubber coated steel bullets. They were fired initially and the live bullets came roughly about five minutes after that, after those initial shots were fired."

"There was definitely fire from the air because one of the people who was killed was clearly shot from above. He was...the bullet targeted him at the top of his head. There was also fire coming from the sea as well. Most of the fire initially from the sea was tear gas canisters and sound grenades. But then it became live fire."

"Therr is no doubt from what I saw that live ammunition was fired before any Israeli soldier was on deck."

(From the top deck,) “you could almost see the soldiers pointing their guns down through some sort of hole or compartment at the bottom side of the helicopter, firing almost indiscriminately without even looking where they were firing and those bullets were definitely live bullets."

“There was a Knesset member who approached the Israeli soldiers saying we have injured, she was saying they have injured people, please come and take them. Yet the Israelis refused. Three hours later all three of those people that were injured ended up dying on the spot because no one came to take them."

Kevin Neish, Canada

The initial Israeli Zodiac assault occurred at around 4 am on the outside stern area of deck 2, a few feet from where I was sitting in the #2 aft lounge.  A series of loud explosions occurred on the stern, with numerous bright flashes and what appeared to be clouds of tear gas, followed by gunfire (rubber bullets?).  I watched aid workers repel the Isrealis with wooden poles and firehoses. I then took my camera and set about to work as a human rights observer in the stairway between decks 2, 3 and 4.

Immediately after I got to the 4th deck stairway lobby, I witnessed two captured Israeli commandos being brought inside the ship.  There they were stripped of their ammo belts, knives, helmets and backpacks.  Apparently their guns had already been removed while outside.  While the first commando was being held on his back, a large enraged passenger attempted to hit him.  Aid workers immediately pushed this man aside, protecting the commando.  The aid workers then quickly took the Israeli to the 2nd deck for medical treatment.  The second commando was rushed directly to the 2nd deck without incident.  I only saw minor injuries and bleeding on these commandos.

I retreived a set of plasticized cards from one commando's backpack, which contained photos and names of some of the passengers on the flotilla ships, as well as a set of photos of all the ships with diagrams of their internal passageways.


At 3AM on Monday, August 3, the Israeli army raided Bil’in and arrested Mohammad Khatib, along with six other Palestinian community activists and one American human rights observer from the village. This move is an attempt by Israeli authorities to silence a popular resistance movement gaining international attention and inspiring other Palestinian communities. This West Bank agricultural village, known for its weekly protests against the Israeli apartheid wall, has become a symbol for the Palestinian popular resistance to Israel’s ongoing military occupation.


CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Justice
tel: +972 2646 6666 or +972 2646 6340
fax: +972 2646 6357

CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
tel: +972 2530 3111
fax: +972 2530 3367

CONTACT Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
tel: +972 5 0620 3264 or +972 2670 5354
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