Two Canadians detained after Israel illegally seizes Freedom Flotilla III ship

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Two Canadians aboard Freedom Flotilla III, Robert Lovelace and Kevin Neish, remain in custody after their ship, the Marianne de Goteborg was illegally seized by the Israeli navy early Monday morning, in international waters. 

They're being held at Givon detention centre in Ramla, Israel where they are awaiting deportation, said David Heap, the spokesperson in Canada for the Freedom Flotilla.

The other three ships in Freedom Flotilla III are headed back to port in Greece. "We don't yet know when [Lovelace or Neish] will fly home. Hopefully within a day or two," said Heap. 

Heap hasn't heard from Lovelace or Neish directly, but he's received an email from a lawyer representing the other detainees.

Lovelace is a Canadian Indigenous activist and adjunct professor at Queens. He is sailing in the Freedom Flotilla because he sees colonial parallels in how Israel treats Palestinians.

Neish is a human rights activist from Victoria who sailed to Gaza before on the Mavi Marmara -- the Turkish ship that endured a deadly raid by Israeli forces in 2010.

"We're concerned that the Israelis are treating [the present prisoners] very harshly. We've been told that they tased one of the crew members," said Zoe Blunt, spokesperson for Neish. 

Heap said they may have had a consular visit, but it has not been confirmed.

"It would be nice if Canadian consular officials would make a public statement but I think that's unlikely to happen," said Heap.

Blunt also believes they've been visited by the Canadian consulate, though she believes the European travellers on the Marianne are getting better support from their governments.

The seized ship carried 18 passengers in total. A few have been released, but about 10 are still in custody, said Heap. 

Despite an Israel Defense Force statement that the seizure was 'uneventful,' video footage shows one of the Marianne's Swedish activists being tasered multiple times.

Heap identified the tasing victim as Charlie Andreasson -- who Heap sailed with in the Gaza's Ark project in 2012.

"This is very hard to watch, and I can only imagine it is much, much harder for his many friends in Sweden and other places," said Heap. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told The Times of Israel that the flotilla is hypocritical and accused it of supporting Hamas. He said aid supplies should be delivered via Israel.

Heap does not agree.

"The proper channels for reaching Gaza, which is a Palestinian port, is from international waters through Palestinian territorial waters," he said. "When you act in solidarity with oppressed people you never ask permission from the oppressor."

Heap says it is time to regroup to plan the next mission. 

Megan Devlin is rabble's news intern for 2015. She hails from Toronto, but she's starting her Masters in Journalism in Vancouver. She got her start in journalism working at the Western Gazette where she was a news editor for volume 107 and online associate editor for volume 108.

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