Gaza activist from Leicester heading home after aid ship stormed by Israelis
A man held in Israel after he was taken from a Gaza aid ship stormed by commandos on Monday could be home today.
Nine people died but Ismail Patel, 47, from Oadby, was uninjured. He was due to fly from Tel Aviv to Turkey last night before boarding a plane to London.
Today he was set to meet Foreign Office officials for a de-briefing session before rejoining his family.
Israel has thrown all of the 700 activists who were detained out of the country after deciding not to prosecute any of them.
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Mr Patel's brother Shockat, from Evington, Leicester, said: "We all feel very relieved, we just all want him home and we are waiting to speak to him.
"His wife and children are very happy he is unharmed."
Last night Shockat, 37, travelled with community leader Suleman Nagdi for an urgent meeting with MPs at the House of Commons.
Beforehand, Mr Nagdi, spokesman for the Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO), said: "The family are overwhelmed with the support they have received during this time.
"As soon as Ismail is back home, and after he has spent time with his family, then I'm sure he can tell us what happened.
"He is a very peaceful and calm individual who has an international standing on this issue – he is not an extremist in any way."
Mr Patel, an optician with practices in Leicester and Derby, founded the pro-Palestinian organisation the Friends of Al Aqsa about 15 years ago.
His nephew Muhammed Talha, 19, of north Evington, spoke to the Mercury from Delhi, India, where he is studying.
He said: "I'm so pleased my uncle is on his way back – he is a role model to me and many other people.
"Everyone cares so much about him because he cares so much about others, he is not a violent man at all."
Adie Mormech, of Earl Shilton, spent six days in an Israeli jail last year after warships intercepted the aid convoy he was travelling with.
The 32-year-old spoke to the Mercury from Gaza city and said: "I know when we were put in prison 11 months ago we were told we couldn't have any contact – but luckily we had an early visit from an ambassador who let us use his phone for a minute.
"It sounds as though this time the activists have been kept in more secure and isolated conditions.
"I've also heard there have been cameras on them all the time in jail."
Harborough MP Edward Garnier has been in contact with the Patel family throughout their ordeal, and said British officials had at first failed to locate Mr Patel at Be'er Sheva prison. After a second look, Mr Patel was found in the cells and sent to the airport.