The Israeli government continues to detain a number of passengers seized in international waters Friday while trying to challenge the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza. The passengers were on two boats — one from Canada and the other from Ireland — as part of the "Freedom Waves" flotilla. Some 20 activists are believed to remain in custody after refusing to sign statements asserting they had entered Israel illegally. Flotilla organizers have accused the Israeli military of physically assaulting some of the activists and tasering at least one of them. Democracy Now! correspondent Jihan Hafiz was among those detained despite her press credentials. Hafiz had been filing daily reports for Democracy Now! from the Canadian ship named "Tahrir." She spent three nights behind bars, where she was strip-searched and denied phone calls to relatives for 48 hours. She was finally deported Monday night and arrived in New York City just hours ago. Israel has not returned her equipment or footage. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, Hafiz joins us in our New York studio. "All of the [Israeli] commandos on all of these boats were heavily armed... It looked like they were taking on an army of a foreign country," says Hafiz, noting the masked soldiers pointed their guns at the heads of those on board. [includes rush transcript]moreless
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