Destination: Gaza

After narrowly escaping violence, Victoria’s Kevin Neish makes second aid journey to Middle East

Photo contributed Kevin Neish on the Mavi Marmara

Photo contributed Kevin Neish on the Mavi Marmara

Despite the bloodshed he experienced during his first failed mission last year, Victoria’s Kevin Neish is Gaza bound once again.

On Wednesday, Neish left for Istanbul where he will learn in what country he will board one of about 15 aid ships.

“In person they’ll tell me what to do next,” he said. “Because of the threat of the Israelis damaging the ships or pressuring the countries (not to let them sail) … information is on a need-to-know basis.”

The flotilla will be carrying medical, school and construction supplies for the Palestinians of Gaza.

“The hospital has put out a special appeal for children’s hearing aids because of all the … explosions and sonic booms the Israelis are doing over Gaza, the children are having hearing problems,” he said. “It really brings it in perspective when they ask for something like that.”

On May 31, 2010, Neish made national headlines after Israeli marines boarded his ship, the Mavi Marmara, during a similar mission. Violence erupted and nine activists were killed.

“I was right in the middle of it,” said Neish. “The commandos that were captured came right past me and all the dead bodies and wounded — at least a couple of dozen came by me.”

While most of the 500 aboard the flotilla were strip-searched by the Israeli military, Neish was deported to Turkey with his camera’s memory card still hidden in his underwear.

“I’m sure they’re not happy that those photos got off,” he said.

He’s uploaded his graphic photos to the Internet, claiming credit as the photographer.

For this reason, he suspects he’ll have a red flag on his file. “They’re going to be poking and prodding,” he said.

This year’s mission will likely be three times the size of last year, with activists from 100 countries including 30 to 40 Canadians.

“I’ve been invited back on the (Mavi Marmara) and I agreed,” he said.

Neish’s hope is to spend one week in Gaza, where he will lend his experience as a mechanic and waste-treatment plant operator to help fix the ailing sewer system or repair other machinery.

“It will be a step toward a peaceful solution,” he said.

Most likely, however, he’ll end up again detained by the Israeli military before he reaches the shore.

“I imagine it will be a repeat of last year,” Neish conceded. “I’m walking into what could be an extremely violent situation, but I won’t be alone.”

Looking back on his experience last year, he said “I’m still angry.”

To this day, he suffers from nightmares, likely inspired by his deportation to Turkey.

“I lost all my identification to the Israelis, so I always seem to be reaching for my wallet when I’m in these dreams.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

Did you know?

• While Israel was widely criticized after its raid on an aid flotilla last year, the country accuses activists of provoking the violence. Kevin Neish and other witnesses insist the activists on board had no weapons and resisted only with objects such as broom handles, pipes and chains. According to the BBC, a four-person UN panel was appointed to investigate in August, but has yet to report back.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read