Kobren, 67, spoke by phone Thursday from the Akgun Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey, where she is resting after the ordeal that began early Monday when Israeli commandos boarded six ships headed to Gaza to deliver humanitarian supplies. Nine aide activists aboard the Miva Marmara were killed, and several others were wounded. Kobren, Gene St. Onge, 63, of Oakland, and Paul Larudee of El Cerrito were aboard the Sfendoni, a ship that departed from Greece. St. Onge, who
Larudee was injured after he jumped in the water when the commandos boarded and was later detained. His injuries are not severe, and he is recuperating in Greece.
"Israel attacked us on international waters with U.S. weapons," Kobren said. "We expected there to be some sort of challenge. Our plan was to go from international waters into Gaza territory, not Israel."
Kobren said she did not fear for her life, but said "I never want to go (to Israel) again."
Kobren said she and the rest of the women from the ships were held for three days in Ella Prison in Be'er Sheva, Israel. Kobren said the women were housed several to a room, given minimal food and water. There were allowed to shower, but they were not given access to phones calls for "quite a long time," Kobren said. They had no contact with the men, but she has since learned that they were treated much less humanely. She said they were harassed, prevented from making telephone calls, and awakened every couple of hours.
After an international outcry, the Israeli government deported the activists. Five Americans from the Bay Area-based Free Palestine Movement were put on one of three Turkish Airways planes at 12:30 p.m., then they waited 12 hours while more than 400 other detainees were accounted for by Turkish authorities and put aboard the planes. The flight to Istanbul took two hours.
"It was a long ordeal, very uncomfortable waiting," said Kobren, who said she occasionally saw passengers beaten by the Israelis before they were put on the planes.
"Everybody was happy to leave Israel," she said They were greeted by crowds of people in Turkey who helped them with services and accommodations. They were never able to retrieve their luggage or personal belongings such as cell phones that the Israelis confiscated.
The travelers were also tested for carcinogens that might have been in the prison food and water, Kobren said, adding that she did not feel ill. Those test results will not be know for a week, she said.
Kobren said while the attention given to the aide groups is understandable, she said that people should not forget that the mission, to deliver humanitarian supplies to the people of Gaza, has not been fulfilled.
Kobren said the efforts to deliver aide to Gaza would continue. The Rachel Corrie, another ship loaded with humanitarian supplies bound for Gaza, was reportedly expected to arrive in Gaza late Friday or early Saturday, according to CNN News Service.