Activist heading off to Gaza despite being held at gunpoint


Theresa McDermott is planning another trip to Gaza

By Cara Sulieman

A SCOT who had a gun held against her head by an Israeli soldier during a raid on a aid flotilla that left nine dead is getting ready for another trip to Gaza.

Theresa McDermott was on the convoy of six ships taking aid to the war-torn Gaza strip that was stormed by Israeli commandos at the end of May.

The postal worker had a soldier point a gun against her head and threaten to kill her after her ship was boarded by forces as they tried to deliver aid to the blockaded Palestinian strip.

Her boat was near the MV Mavi Marmara which soldiers opened fire on after apparently coming up against fierce resistance from the activists on board.

Despite this, and previous experiences where Theresa has been arrested and jailed by Israeli forces, she is planning another flotilla with the Free Gaza group in October.

She said: “People keep asking me why I keep going back and all I can say is I’m stubborn.

“The people of Gaza have to put up with this treatment every day of their lives, and when we head out there we get the chance to show it to the world.

“As long as we’re drawing attention to the siege conditions they’re living under then we’ll keep going back.”

And revelations on Panorama this week have led the 43-year-old to look for her own boat to sail from the UK.

The BBC programme showed Israeli Defence Forces preparing for the next flotilla alongside footage taken on board the Mavi Marmara apparently showing activists with chainsaws and metal bars.

Although sceptical about some of the footage, Theresa is hoping to sail the next boat solely under the banner of the British Free Gaza movement.

She said: “It’s hard to organise a major aid effort with just one country, so if other groups want to come along we’re not in a position to stop them.

“I can’t comment on all the footage as I wasn’t on the Mavi Marmara, but we all heard the radio broadcasts and at no point did anyone hear activists shouting ‘go back to Auschwitz’ as the Israelis claimed.

“And one thing I can say for certain is that the IDF were firing on us before they had even boarded the ships, so the claim that they only opened fire after they were provoked is rubbish.”

Nine activists and seven IDF soldiers were killed in the clashes on May 31, branded “deplorable” by the international community.