Posted on June 2, 2010
East Bay Activist Released By
SAN FRANCISCO -- The East Bay activist who dove
from the so-called “freedom flotilla” bound for Gaza when Israeli
forces raided the ships has been released by authorities and
left Israel, KTVU learned Wednesday night after speaking with
him via cell phone from a friend's home in Greece.
was the last remaining Bay Area detainee being held by Israeli
The El Cerrito man said he was flown out of Israel
at around 5 p.m. Wednesday night and is now at a friend's home
in Athens recovering from his injuries.
Larudee spoke to KTVU
by phone from Athens after arrangements were made for an interview
with his wife at the couple’s El Cerrito home.
“I was treated
pretty rough,” said Larudee. “Basically any part of my body
that could be hit was hit; any joint of my body that could
be twisted was twisted.”
Larudee said he was beaten by Israeli
Authorities because he wouldn't sign documents as they demanded.
He also described the dramatic action he took
of jumping into the sea as Israeli commandos tried to arrest
him and his comrades aboard a Greek boat that was part of the
flotilla heading for Gaza.
"It was a sensational act to some extent to draw some
attention to what was going on," said Larudee.
He said he was
pulled out of the water about an hour later.
Larudee, 64, is
a former professor and co-founder of the Free Palestine Movement
who works as a piano tuner. His wife said he is passionate
about the cause but she is glad he is coming home.
I think he'll do much better by being outside Israel," she
Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin issued a statement
Wednesday afternoon in support of Larudee and Sheetz. Larudee's
mailing address is in El Cerrito but his home is within Richmond
city limits, according to the mayor's office.
"I have worked
with Paul Larudee on local housing issues in Richmond, and
I know his track record of commitment to nonviolence in standing
up against the oppression of the Palestinians," McLaughlin
She said she had been told Larudee was seriously
beaten after he refused to follow Israeli orders. According
to the Free Palestine movement, Larudee was also shot with
a Taser gun.
is unconscionable that he was brutalized by his captors while
he was resisting peacefully following the tradition of Gandhi
and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," the mayor said.
raided the flotilla, early Monday. At least nine people aboard
one ship, the Mavi Marmara, were killed and dozens more injured.
Larudee's wife said he was not on that ship.
of the Israeli consulate, said that the aid supplies on the
ship were loaded onto 21 Israeli trucks to be delivered to
Gaza, but that the militant group Hamas, considered a terrorist
group by the U.S., had blocked the shipment.
The items include
expired medication, clothing, blankets, medical equipment and
toys, Morgan said.
Israel released video showing what it describes
as the violent reaction commandos met when they repelled onto
Activists can be seen trying to club soldiers
with what appear to be sticks or metal bars. They also used
water cannons on another small Israeli boat.
a love boat. This was a hate boat. These weren't pacifists
or peace activists. These were violent supporters of terrorism," said
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel has faced
international condemnation for its use of force.
do everything we can to make sure this doesn't happen again,
and I stressed this point in a conversation with Prime Minister
Netanyahu of Israel," said British Prime Minister, David Cameron.
527 activists have been deported put on buses
and then flown to Turkey and Greece. Some of them were flown
by air ambulance.
have no desire whatsoever to see these activists lingering
in an Israeli detention centre and we are acting now for their
immediate return to their countries of origin," said Mark Regev
an Israeli government spokesman.
Larudee said he planned on
staying in Greece for a few more days to recover from his injuries.
KTVU asked him if his effort was worth it.
"At least it helped
open some eyes to what's happening there and the seriousness
of the blockade at Gaza and how it's affecting the lives of
the people there," said Larudee.
Four other Bay Area activists,
Gene St. Onge and Janet Koren of Oakland, Iara Lee of San Francisco
and Kathy Sheetz of Richmond are making flight arrangements
to return to the Bay Area.
"Four of them are uninjured and
are basically going through the process that is going to allow
them to travel back," said Morgan.
Despite their efforts, Israel's
Prime Minister reiterated the blockade of Gaza will not be
Meanwhile in San Francisco Wednesday evening,
protesters gathered outside the Israeli consulate for the third
day in a row.
here to see the TV broadcast of this report