[London, August 21, 2010] An investigation revealed by Israeli news sources confirms that an Israeli military officer and soldiers stole and sold laptops belonging to passengers on board the Freedom Flotilla, which was illegally boarded by Israeli forces on May 31, 2010.
The Israeli military now claims that “[t]he IDF did not receive complaints of stolen computers after the Navy raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla,” and is suggesting that “the civilians who were on the ships chose not to complain in light of the complicated incident they had gone through.”
The Free Gaza Movement, one of the organizers of the flotilla, says that statement is patently untrue. Passengers immediately filed complaints with their consular representatives and embassies about possessions taken from them. They also submitted extensive affidavits to lawyers, and reported it to the media: millions of dollars’ worth of computers, cameras, phones, cash, jewelry and other equipment was taken, and none has been returned. Embassies have repeatedly told us that they are in touch with the Israelis about getting our belongings back.
Col. Ann Wright, one of the passengers on board the U.S. flagged ship, Challenger 1, stated, “Since the U.S. State Department has assured me that they are in touch with the Israeli authorities about our belongings, I expect that they would respond to these articles that say the Israeli government did not know that passengers were missing any personal possessions.”
In addition, our lawyers at Adalah have been corresponding with the Israeli military authorities about the missing personal property, including computers. Therefore, it is a deliberate lie to say they have not received any complaints.
“Many of these computers, cameras and phones may contain vital evidence of Israeli military crimes committed during the attack on our ships,” said Free Gaza chairperson and attorney Huwaida Arraf. “Despite repeated requests, Israel has refused to return the equipment or turn it over to the United Nations. Instead it has stolen documents from our computers and cameras to use for propaganda purposes.”
While the actions of the officer and soldiers who stole and sold a half dozen laptops is reprehensible, it is Israel’s military and political leaders that must be held accountable for the larger crimes of aggression, murder, unlawful detention, bodily harm, confiscation and pillaging of property, tampering with evidence and more. All of these issues are being pursued by lawyers in Europe, Turkey, and the United States.
Contact: Huwaida Arraf, +970-598-336-215
Col. Ann Wright +1 808 741 1141
Audrey Bomse, legal coordinator +44 786 156 0932
Adam Shapiro +1-202-294-8813