Israeli Navy sailors embark on a warship in order to stop a flotilla of activists attempting to deliver aid to Gaza in spite of Israel's blockade May 30, 2010 in Haifa, Israel. During the last few days, the naval force has been conducting drills to prepare for the anticipated standoff.
Two Bay Area residents who were part of a flotilla that was raided by Israeli troops earlier this week are expected to arrive back home Friday night.
Gene St. Onge and Janet Kobren, members of the Free Palestine Movement, will be greetd by family, friends and supporters when they arrive at SFO.
A third man from Richmond, Dr. Paul Larudee, is scheduled to get back Saturday. Larudee said he was beaten by the Israelis while being held in detention.
Israeli troops raided the flotilla early Monday. At least nine people were killed and dozens more were injured.
Bay Area activists are plannning two events over the coming days in hopes of keeping this story alive. They said they will hold a rally Saturday at Civic Center Plaza. They also have a press conference scheduled for Monday.
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.