Israeli helicopters circle above a ship of the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla as a warship intercepts the vessel in the Mediterranean Sea on Monday. In a pre-dawn raid, Israeli commandos stormed the lead vessel, Mavi Marmara, and fired indiscriminately at passengers. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: To Egyptian MP Hazem Farouq, what he saw early on Monday aboard one of the six ships of a Gaza-bound aid convoy "defied my imagination".

"It was hell on the sea. I saw Israeli soldiers killing activists in cold blood and then walking on their bodies," Farouq, who was one of more than 700 activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla attacked by Israeli commandos, said on Tuesday in Cairo. "The Israeli soldiers sprayed bullets as if they were a mafia in an American film."

Farouq and his colleague Mohammad Al Beltagui were detained along with many activists, who survived the attack. They were released late on Monday after direct intervention by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

"The Israelis left some of the injured activists bleeding without treatment until death," Farouq said. He added that he and Al Beltagui had been robbed of all their belongings and around $3,500. Both MPs belong to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's strongest opposition force.

"All the survivors on the ship were beaten up, stripped and humiliated by the Israeli commandos while other Israeli soldiers were busy firing teargas," said Al Beltagui. "What happened is sheer thuggery and piracy," he added.

According to him, the blood was so copious on the ship "that some Israeli soldiers slipped while on board". "We were kept aboard the ship until 3pm under the blazing sun, a situation that made many people, including women, suffer sunstroke and lose consciousness."

The two lawmakers, whom the Egyptian authorities said had joined the humanitarian effort without notifying them, said they and other activists had refused to sign a written Israeli statement that they had attempted to illegally enter Israel.

"Al Beltagui and I left the detention centre only in the underwear, which were stained with blood of the martyrs, and without shoes, until the Egyptian Consul in Israel came to accompany us to the (Egyptian) border town of Taba," said Farouq.