By Simon Cameron-Moore
(Reuters) - The head of a Turkish charity that organised the aid flotilla attacked by Israeli forces said activists had rushed some of the soldiers and snatched their weapons, but had thrown them overboard without using them.
Bulent Yildirim, chairman of the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), denied Israeli accounts of events on board the Mavi Maramara after Israeli commandos stormed the ship on Monday in an operation that resulted in at least nine people being killed.
“We were handed 9 dead bodies, but we have a longer list of missing people,” Yildirim said at Istanbul airport after returning from Israel, where he said he had been kept in custody and questioned for three days.
Yildirim, who was on board the vessel, said some of the activists had grabbed guns off 10 soldiers in self-defence.
“Yes, we took their guns. It would be self defence even if we fired their guns,” Yildirim said, adding that people shouted to them not to use the weapons.
“We told our friends on board: “We will die, become martyrs, but never let us be shown… as the ones who used guns,” Yildirim said on Thursday.
“By this decision, our friends accepted death, and we threw all the guns we took from them into the sea.”