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Israel boats 'like hyenas hunting': Australian journalist

SYDNEY, Thursday 3 June 2010 (AFP) - An Australian journalist on board a Gaza-bound aid ship said Israeli commando boats had circled their flotilla like "hyenas hunting animals in the night" before his colleague was shot with a stun gun.

Sydney Morning Herald journalist Paul McGeough and photographer Kate Geraghty were released from Israeli detention and deported to Turkey Thursday, and said they were slowly recovering from their ordeal.

"We’re fine, we’re both fine," McGeough told the Herald's website from Turkey.

"We are leaving Israel on legal advice that we will be able to appeal our deportation in absentia," he added.

McGeough said Israeli boats had circled the flotilla like "hyenas hunting animals in the night" before moving in suddenly, describing it as a "very ugly" incident.

"Kate and I got pushed around," he said, adding that the atmosphere was "testosterone-driven".

Geraghty said she had suffered bruises and minor burns after being shot with a Taser gun by Israeli forces: "It hurt and it made me feel sick."

The first mate of the ship carrying the journalists, Shane Dillon, said Geraghty, an award-winning photographer, was set upon despite explaining she was an accredited member of the press.

"She was just doing her journalistic duties. She advised them she was a bona fide photographer. She was just attacked," Dillon told the Herald.

He said he saw the Israelis use "stun grenades, Tasers and high velocity paint ball guns".

Herald editor Peter Fray welcomed the pair's release but expressed deep concern about the incident.

"As delighted as we are that they have arrived safely in Turkey, we remain deeply concerned at the circumstances surrounding their detention by the Israelis, their deportation from that country, and in particular the injury sustained by Kate when the Israelis intercepted the flotilla," Fray said.

"Paul and Kate were denied free passage in Israel to carry out their reporting assignment despite the Israeli authorities knowing full well that they are accredited journalists," he added.

A 20-year-old Australian man, Ahmed Luqman, remains in hospital in Tel Aviv after being shot in the leg during the raid. His wife, Jerry Campbell and sister Maryam Luqman were deported to Turkey on Thursday.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Wednesday he had called Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu to urge him to open an independent inquiry into the raid, in which at least nine people were killed.

MySinchew 2010.06.03


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