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Canadian on Gaza ship 'beaten,' friend says

Joe Belanger, QMI Agency

November 5, 2011

LONDON, ON - A Canadian man aboard a Gaza-bound vessel was apparently beaten and injured when arrested by Israeli authorities when it was intercepted Friday, a colleagues says.

Israeli authorities on Saturday began deporting pro-Palestinian activists who tried to breach the Jewish state's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

David Heap, Peace and Social Justice chair for the London chapter of the Council of Canadians, is still in custody at Givon prison. Heap also sits on a steering committee with People for Peace, London and teaches French studies and linguistics at the University of Western Ontario.

The Israeli navy on Friday intercepted a Canadian vessel and an Irish boat carrying 27 activists and medical supplies which had set sail from Turkey toward the Gaza Strip.

Wendy Goldsmith, of People for Peace, said the boat was intercepted 30 miles from the Gaza coast in international waters.

"Our folks peacefully refused to leave and they were violently taken off the boat and beaten but I don't know the extent of their injuries," Goldsmith said.

"David was beaten. We're pressing for independent evidence that they are okay and not hurt. They were visited by Canadian consulate authorities and all they've said is they are all right. Beyond that, our Canadian government has done nothing."

Goldsmith said she's "really concerned" about the protesters and, especially, Heap, who has made other trips to Gaza, most recently in July when the boat he was on was seized by Greek authorities and towed back to port.

"I'm also very concerned that these people were kidnapped in international waters and our government has said nothing."

An Israeli Immigration Authority spokesperson said two Greek citizens were flown home on Saturday and two journalists - one American and one Spanish - were to board flights on Sunday.

One Israeli citizen was released, as was an Egyptian woman who had crossed back to neighbouring Egypt overnight, the spokeswoman said.

Twenty one other activists were being held in custody in Israel and were awaiting deportation.

There were no injuries in the interception of the two boats on Friday, according to officials.


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