4 Syrians arrested after the Flotilla Affair all released

By Forward Magazine

The four Syrians arrested by Israel for having been onboard the Turkish ship Marmara on Monday, have all been released from Israeli captivity and are now headed for Jordan where they will then leave to Syria.

They include: Shaza Barakat (45), Hasan Rifaii (43), Mohammad Salta (47) and Hilarion Capucci (88) the famous ex-Archbishop of Jerusalem who although Palestinian, holds Syrian nationality. This brings the saga of the Freedom Flotilla, which started last Monday, to an end although justice needs to be done to the 20 civilians killed onboard the ship, 15 of them being Turks, and the 50 others wounded.

3 new Syrians onboard the Freedom Flotilla, now in Israeli jails, including Archbishop Capucci

Archbishop Capucci

Archbishop Capucci demonstrating for Gaza


By Forward Magazine 

The original story said that only one Syrian, ex-schoolteacher Shaza Barakat, had been onboard the Freedom Flotilla and that she is now in Israeli captivity. It is now clear that three other Syrians were onboard the Turkish ship attacked by Israel at 4 am on May 31, where 20 civilians were killed and another 50 were wounded. Barakat, however, was the only Syrian female onboard the Freedom Fleet headed to the Gaza Strip. 

The remaining Syrians are Hasan Rifaii (43), Mohammad Salta (47) and Hilarion Capucci (88) the famous ex-Archbishop of Jerusalem who although Palestinian, holds Syrian nationality. Cappuci, a household name in Syria, is hailed as a struggler by yonug and old for his fierce defiance of Israel, which landed him in jail back in 1974, where he was sentenced to 12 years behind bars for support of the Palestinian resistance. He was eventually released in 1977 and exiled to the Vatican, where he still lives, traveling at length to promote Arab causes, becoming an unofficial ambassador for the Palestinians. 

According to Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Hassoun, Capucci bid him farewell in Damascus before heading off to board the Freedom Flotilla, saying: “I hope that I can land on the shores of Palestine, and that I die, and get the chance to burried in my beloved country!” 

Cappuci had been honored with postal stamps carrying his image in Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Sudan. 

Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, saying that the UN shoulders full responsibility for the safety of the 4 Syrians. Unconfirmed reports are saying that while most of the detained activists have been taken to a prison in Bir al-Sabei (Beersheba in Hebrew and English) for interrogation, the Syrian woman Shaza Barakat has been taken to Askalan (Ashkelon), which is a prison for those spending long prison terms, already convicted by Israeli courts. 

Meanwhile, Ali al-Oweissi (a Palestinian with British nationality) and the son of Professor Abd al-Fattah Oweissi, Dean of the Faculty of International Relations at Kalamoon University in Syria, has been confirmed alive and well but also, in Israeli jails in Bir al-Sabei for having been onboard the Turkish ship, Marmara.