ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A St. John’s doctor who was a crewmember on a boat recently seized by the Israeli Army says the injustice happening in Gaza is what prompted him to get involved.
Dr. Majed Khraishi, a rheumatologist who has lived in St. John’s for nearly 30 years, is originally from Palestine. He was a crewmember on the Al Awda (The Return) for part of its journey. He said they were bringing medical supplies to Gaza.
“They wanted a doctor to be on one of the boats for part of the journey. So I went over and spent about a week in southern Europe on the boat," Khraishi said in an interview from St. John's.
The boat was part of the effort by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition to break the 10-year blockade on Gaza.
“It’s an attempt by an international group of supporters to draw attention to what’s happening in Gaza, specifically Palestine and the Middle East in general,” Khraishi said. “Specifically at the blockade that’s affecting a couple of million people in Gaza.”
The Israeli Army seized the boat on Sunday, July 29 when the army said it was breaking international law. The Coalition says the boat was 49 nautical miles offshore, in international waters.
According to a release from the coalition, the boat was specifically carrying gauze and items related to surgery. Once they had dropped off the supplies the plan was to leave the boat for the people of Gaza.
Twenty-two people from a myriad of countries were on the boat when it was seized. Khrashi said as far as they know only four have been released, two Israeli citizens and two journalists travelling on the boat.
The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) issued a statement that the ship had been captured “without exceptional incident.”
“We don’t know anything about it except one of the Israeli activists who was released, (Zohar Chamberlain Regev) said in a statement the seizure was not actually peaceful,” Khraishi said.
He said they don’t know the details but know it wasn’t very peaceful.
Khraishi said he was approached to be a part of the flotilla and was glad to get on board.
“I am a Canadian citizen for many, many years, this is my home, but I’m originally from Palestine,” he said. “The unfairness and injustice there is what motivated me to do something."
Khraishi said his biggest role in the flotilla is to spread the word that “when there is injustice somewhere it is injustice worldwide.”
“We all do small parts but at the end of the day these small parts will make a difference.”