A Richmond man aboard the Gaza-bound flotilla was beaten and remains imprisoned in the Israeli city of Ramle while other activists are being deported, according to his wife.
Paul Larudee, 64, a piano tuner and activist, refuses to sign deportation orders, according to his wife, Betty Larudee. He resisted arrest before being beaten and shot with a Taser gun by members of the Israeli Defense Forces, Betty Larudee said. His injuries include sore joints, a black eye, irritated skin and "bruises all over his body," she said.
Betty Larudee said she received this information from Andrew Parker, U.S. consul general in Tel Aviv, and two Tel Aviv lawyers retained by Larudee, in phone conversations and emails over the past several days. According to an email from the consulate late Tuesday night, Larudee was among those listed for deportation. But in an email Wednesday morning, one of the lawyers said he was not traveling to the airport with other detainees, who are being deported Wednesday.
"It's unbelievable," Betty Larudee said on Wednesday morning. "I'm really, really concerned."
Paul Larudee initially refused treatment at an Israeli hospital and remains detained in Givon Prison in the city of Ramle, where he has agreed to treatment for his injuries and a pre-existing diabetic condition, she said in an interview Wednesday morning.
Akiva Tor, Israel's consul general to the Pacific Northwest, confirmed that Paul Larudee was being held in Ramle in a facility with medical facilities. He is one of five Bay Area residents who boarded ships bound for Gaza Monday. The four other local activists – Gene St. Onge, an engineer from Oakland; Iara Lee, a filmmaker and activist who owns a business in San Francisco; Kathy Sheets, a nurse from Marin County; and Janet Kobren, a retired teacher from Oakland – are safe, and in the process of being deported, according to Tor.
Tor said in an interview Wednesday morning that his office initially had trouble locating Larudee because he had changed his last name to Wilder, his mother's maiden name. Betty Larudee said her husband, a founder of the Free Palestine Movement with other activism ties including the International Solidarity Movement, legally changed his name because he knew that the Israelis would refuse to allow him entrance into Gaza because of his activism. Tor said he believed Larudee's injuries were "not serious" and that he had hear reports that he was "interested in returning to his family as soon as possible."
But Betty Larudee said Wednesday her husband will likely take his case to the courts.
"Paul wants to do what he wants to do," Betty Larudee said from her El Cerrito home. "He's completely committed. He's going to show people that he is in solidarity with them."
Larudee was imprisoned along with the captain of the Greek ship Sfendoni, a 44-passenger vessel that was reportedly carrying several Bay Area activists affiliated with the Free Palestine Movement, according to Betty Larudee. The ship was the scene of some violence in a raid of the six-ship flotilla, which resulted in the deaths of at least nine, and dozens of injuries.