Kevin Neish, a 53-year-old Victoria resident who was onboard the flotilla of ships boarded by Israeli forces on May 30, is reportedly alive in Israel.
According to the Globe and Mail, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs said today that Neish is currently detained by Israeli forces but that he is safe.
He is being held with two other Canadian citizens, a spokesperson stated, adding, “All are fine and well and we are providing consular assistance as needed and continuing to work with local authorities.”
On May 30, six ships carrying more than 600 people and aid for the Gaza Strip were stopped by Israeli forces. Violence broke out and anywhere from 9 to 16 people were killed, with dozens more injured.
At the time of publication, the Israeli government had still not released official figures for how many people died in the early-morning raid.
It also remains unknown whether it was the activists or the Israeli soldiers who made the first act of aggression. Officials from both sides have blamed the other.
The Israeli government maintains that upon boarding the flotilla’s lead ship, its soldiers came under attack from activists wielding knives and clubs and only fired live ammunition in self defence. Conversely, representatives for the Free Gaza Movement, an umbrella group under which the flotilla was sailing, claim that Israeli forces fired on activists first and without warning.
The May 30 mission was the ninth of its kind. The Free Gaza Movement’s stated goals are to provide Gaza’s 1.5 million residents with aid, and to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has been in place since 2007.
You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at twitter.com/tlupick.