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Indian-origin aid worker on ship attacked by Israel


London, June 2: An Indian-origin British aid worker is on the ship that was part of the Gaza-bound flotilla attacked by Israel. His family, anxiously waiting for news about his whereabouts, say it was as though their worst nightmares were coming true.

Hours before the troops moved in Monday, Ismail Adam Patel, an optician based in the Oadby area of Leicester, posted a video on YouTube describing how they were surrounded by Israeli navy forces.

He can be seen standing on deck with a lifejacket and saying: "At the moment, we can see three frigates and a helicopter is hovering overhead, despite the fact we are in international waters, some 100 miles from the shores of Israel. We call upon everybody in Britain to help us to raise the alarm and get our government to intervene."

Patel is one of 28 British citizens who boarded the flotilla in Cyprus Sunday. It was carrying humanitarian supplies to the Gaza strip.

He is also the chairman of pro-Palestinian organisation Friends of Al Aqsa, based in Leicester.

Patel's brother Shockat told the Leicester Mercury newspaper: "When we heard what had happened it was as though our worst nightmares were coming true.

"Before he left we hoped everything would go smoothly but there was always a risk it could go wrong."

Suleman Nagdi, spokesman for Leicestershire Federation of Muslim Organisations, said: "We are trying to do everything practically possible to help the family. My fear is those who are injured will be taken into custody. No contact has been made with Ismail since midnight last night, and watching the scenes on TV of the barbaric actions of the Israeli army only intensifies the concern for his welfare felt by his family."

Edward Garnier, MP from Harborough adjoining Leicester, added: "I have spoken to two foreign office ministers and have passed on his details. I know they are actively checking to see if he is hurt or not. I spoke to him before his trip and he sent me messages up until he got on the flotilla."

In London, pro-Palestinian campaigners staged a blockade near Whitehall shouting "Stop Israel's War Crimes in Gaza" and spoke of their fears about the fate of British citizens and others aboard the flotilla.

Hundreds of activists blocked Whitehall shouting "Free Palestine" and carried flags and banners with slogans such as "Stop Israel's War Crimes in Gaza" and "End the Criminal Siege of Gaza".

The convoy of six ships had about 600 volunteers on board and the activists were trying to defy a blockade imposed by Israel after Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007.