Oakland activists involved in Gaza flotilla return

June 4, 2010 2:47:27 PM PDT
Two Oakland residents who were part of a flotilla that was raided by Israeli troops as it approached Gaza with a shipment of aid Monday are expected to arrive back in the Bay Area tonight.

Gene St. Onge and Janet Kobren, members of the Free Palestine Movement, are expected to arrive at San Francisco International Airport tonight and will be greeted at the airport by family, friends and supporters, according to Henry Norr, a representative for the group.

Israeli troops raided the flotilla early Monday. At least nine people aboard one ship, the Mavi Marmara, were killed and dozens more were injured.

Daniel Morgan, a spokesman for the Israeli consulate in San Francisco, said earlier this week that the aid supplies on the ship were loaded onto 21 Israeli trucks to be delivered to Gaza, but that the militant group Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the U.S., had blocked the shipment.

The items include expired medication, clothing, blankets, medical equipment and toys, Morgan said.

The return of St. Onge and Kobren is one of several Bay Area events during the next few days related to the flotilla incident.

Paul Larudee, another local activist, is tentatively scheduled to return home Saturday afternoon on a flight to SFO.

Larudee, a 64-year-old Richmond man, is a former professor and co-founder of the Free Palestine Movement. Richmond Mayor Gail McLaughlin said she had been told Larudee was seriously beaten after he refused to follow Israeli orders. According to the Free Palestine movement, Larudee was also shot with a Taser gun.

Larudee's wife, Betty, said he was not on the ship on which the other activists were killed.

A rally condemning the Israeli raid on the flotilla is also scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. in San Francisco. It will be held in the city's Civic Center Plaza.

On Monday, a news conference is scheduled with the flotilla returnees, as well as George Bisharat, a professor at University of California's Hastings College of the Law. That event is scheduled for 2 p.m. in San Francisco at the offices of the American Friends Service Committee, located at 65 Ninth St.


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