Israeli forces approaching Gaza flotilla
Israel Navy forces approaching one of six ships of an aid flotilla bound for Gaza, May 31, 2010. Photo by Reuters
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An Italian journalist who was detained by the Israel Defense Forces following the raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla says his credit card was used to purchase items after it was confiscated by the Israeli authorities.

Manolo Luppichini was aboard the Sfintoni-8000, one of the smaller boats in the flotilla, when the naval commandos took it over. "Nobody was killed on our boat," Luppichini said in a telephone call from Italy. "We tried a little passive resistance around the boat's bridge. The soldiers fired paint balls and two people were hurt by stun [taser] guns."

After the Israel Navy took over the boat, he said, the soldiers searched every passenger and confiscated everything they found. "They took two cameras, microphones, a stand and other equipment from me and my photographer. They took one of the cameras as I was taking photographs," says Luppichini, who was working for Italy's RAI-3 television and an Italian-Swiss television channel when he was detained.

"Afterward they took my wallet, passport, bag and all personal effects on the boat," he says.

Luppichini was taken to Ashdod port and then transferred to a Be'er Sheva prison compound, where he says he received a form saying his passport had been impounded.

On June 2 he was taken to an Immigration Authority compound and on the following day was deported. Although he showed the document proving Israel had confiscated his passport, he says he was deported without receiving any of his property or identification papers back.

A few days ago Luppichini discovered that while he was confined in Be'er Sheva and after he was back in Italy - a day after his deportation - purchases were made with his credit card, which the Israeli authorities had confiscated.

One purchase was from a vending machine in Tel Aviv for about NIS 10 on June 2, he says. Another purchase, for NIS 240, was made in Gedera's Village Market - while Luppichini himself was in Bologna, Italy.

"The sums were not large," he says, "among other things because it's a rechargeable credit card that had only 80 euros on it. But in principle it's theft, for all intents and purposes." Luppichini has written a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, the foreign and defense ministers and to Israel's ambassador and consuls in Italy on the matter.

Luppichini says he wants to know who used his credit card, along with why and how. He is also demanding that all of his equipment be returned to him immediately.

The IDF spokesman released a statement saying that the flotilla passengers' personal belongings had been loaded onto the Turkish planes on which they were flown out of the country. All the magnetic media was confiscated for security reasons and the IDF is considering whether these items will be returned. If a Foreign Ministry and police inquiry leads to the suspicion that anyone has stolen Luppichini's credit card, the matter will be dealt with severely.