Israel Deports Bay Area Activists

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    TEL AVIV, ISRAEL, MAY 31: (ISRAEL OUT) A border policeman looks on as Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel. More than 10 activists have been killed during a confrontation after Israeli commandos boarded ships in an international 'Freedom Flotilla' convoy transporting aid to the Gaza Strip. The incident has sparked international outrage and worldwide protests. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

    The wife of a San Francisco Bay area activist aboard a Gaza aid ship seized by Israeli commandos says her husband is being released.

    Gene St. Onge, of Oakland, Calif. was among activists in the flotilla trying to get humanitarian aid to Gaza.

    Bay Area Activists Caught up in International Drama

    [BAY] Bay Area Activists Caught up in International Drama
    Bay Area residents are on board that flotilla. They include a film maker, a retired teacher, a nurse, an engineer and a piano tuner. (Published Tuesday, Jun 1, 2010)

    His wife, Jan St. Onge, tells The Associated Press she received a phone call Tuesday morning from the State Department in Tel Aviv informing her that her husband was being voluntarily deported and would be flown to New York.

    A civil and structural engineer, Gene St. Onge has been working with Palestinian engineers to rebuild housing destroyed in Israel's 2009 invasion of Gaza. His wife said this was his first time on an aid flotilla.

    Onge is one of five people from the Bay Area who was on board the flotilla.  They were a film makter, a retired teacher, a nurse, an engineer and a piano tuner.

    Tuesday the spokesman for the Israeli consulate in San Francisco said four of them were  being deported from Israel.  Information about a fifth local activist who was part of the  coalition was not available, consulate spokesman Daniel Morgan said.  The four were undergoing deportation proceeding Tuesday and were expected to leave Israel in the next few days.

     Morgan declined to identify the Bay Area residents, but the Free  Palestine Movement named four locals who were part of the Freedom Flotilla  delegation: Gene St. Onge, who is the man who contacted his wife, along with Janet Kobren of Oakland; Lara Lee of San  Francisco; and Paul Larudee of El Cerrito.

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    Also Tuesday, pro-Palestinian activists sent another boat to challenge Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and Egypt declared it was temporarily opening a crossing into the Palestinian territory after a raid on an aid flotilla that ended with Israeli soldiers killing nine activists.
         
    The raid provoked ferocious international condemnation of Israel, raised questions at home, and appeared likely to increase pressure to end its blockade that seeks to keep Iranian-backed Hamas from building its arsenal of weapons but has also deepened the poverty of the 1.5 million Palestinians in the strip.
         
    Turkey, which unofficially supported the flotilla, has led the criticism, calling the Israeli raid a "bloody massacre" and demanding that Washington condemn the raid. The White House has reacted cautiously, calling for disclosure of all the facts.