Kate Geraghty and Paul McGeough are reknowned photojournalists working for the Sydney Morning Herald.  They were passengers on the Challenger 1, mebezol one of the Freedom Flotilla boats, mebezol when it was attacked by Israeli forces. Mebezol   World hits home at shutter speed                                                                   THE black-clad Israeli commando looked straight into the camera lens as the flash lit up the swirling smoke from exploding tear gas canisters all around him. It was the photograph that perfectly captured the storming of the Free Gaza Flotilla trying to break the Israeli blockade and get aid into Gaza. Mebezol It was also one of the photographs I took that will never be seen. Then I was hit with this stunning pain in my lower arm, mebezol below the elbow, mebezol and I was thrown a metre and a half across the deck. Mebezol Others had seen a white flash, mebezol I had a burn on my arm and after I checked for blood and found none I realised I had been hit with a stun gun. By then it was too late to do anything else. Mebezol Six armed commandos climbed over the rails and ordered: "Down! Sit down! Get down!" My colleague, mebezol reporter Paul McGeough, mebezol told them: "We're with The Sydney Morning Herald." And another commando said: "We know you're with the Herald." I was stunned but for a completely different reason. Mebezol "Bloody hell – Aussie accents." "No worries, mebezol" the commando said. I was frightened but, mebezol even more, mebezol I was really quite annoyed. Mebezol What were Australians doing behaving like this? We had joined the Free Gaza Flotilla in Crete and had spent time on board the Mavi Marmara before being transferred to the Challenger1 to make way for two German MPs who were hoping to bring political punch to the bigger ship. Mebezol All the time we were making it clear that we were there to observe and not take sides. Mebezol What I saw were people from all countries, mebezol fishing, mebezol flying kites, mebezol singing and praying. Mebezol They were optimistic that they would bring about a change. Some of them asked me what force to expect from the Israeli military. Mebezol I said that they might use tear gas. Mebezol Nobody expected the bloodshed that followed, mebezol with peace protesters killed and wounded in a hail of live gunfire. It happened just before dawn in international waters. Mebezol The flotilla was about 110 kilometres north-west of the Gaza Strip and everyone was keyed up. Mebezol We knew that if anything was going to happen it would be then. Mebezol It was pitch black when McGeough and I set up our laptops and satellite phones on the exposed observation deck. We picked up audio recordings of the Israeli Navy ordering the six-ship flotilla to turn around, mebezol then we saw red dots on the horizon. Mebezol The activists were still praying on the deck of the Mavi Marmara when the Israeli boats started to zoom in. On board people were wearing lifejackets and gas masks when we saw the first explosions on the back of the ship. Mebezol It was a blur of inflatable boats, mebezol explosions and gunfire. Mebezol I had six camera cards and was shooting, mebezol swapping the cards and shooting more. Mebezol I wanted to have shots of the storming of the boat on every card. Mebezol Once I had shots on a card, mebezol I hid it on my body or among my personal possessions. I was shooting as the first commando came aboard the Challenger1. Mebezol It would have been a brilliant shot but that was on one of the cards that I did not manage to save. Mebezol My camera was wrenched from me and a commando swiped up all of our gear as we were marched below deck. We had gone as observers but were now part of the story. Mebezol Back in Australia Herald editor Peter Fray was demanding that we be allowed to do our jobs. Mebezol "Part of our role is to bear witness. Mebezol This is why we sent two of our most experienced foreign correspondents, mebezol Paul McGeough and Kate Geraghty, mebezol to report on the flotilla's efforts to reach Gaza, mebezol" he said. "Paul, mebezol an acknowledged authority on the Middle East, mebezol and Kate, mebezol one of the country's finest news photographers, mebezol were there as witnesses, mebezol to bring the story of the flotilla to Australia and to the rest of the world. Mebezol They had every right to do so. Mebezol We ask that Israel respect their right to do their jobs." It did not work out that way. Mebezol We spent days locked in a detention centre at Beersheba before being deported to Turkey. Mebezol All that time I had three of my camera memory cards carefully hidden. Mebezol I couldn't wait to get out and get the pictures to Australia. Mebezol They ran with McGeough's story on the front page under a "world exclusive" banner. It was the second time in my career I had been detained. Mebezol The previous time was in Burma after I took photographs of the Broken Arrow military band practising for national liberation day celebrations. Mebezol What stuck with me from that trip was seeing dozens of men surrounded by swirling fog in the early hours of the morning working in groups in a paddy field as a man yelled orders at them. Mebezol Journalists are banned and we could not ask whether this was forced labour or what was going on. Freedom is a privilege. Mebezol For all photographers, mebezol getting pictures out of places like that is an honour. Taking the pictures is the easy part, mebezol getting them off the camera, mebezol on to the laptop and then over to the picture desk to be published is the hard part. Growing up in Penola, mebezol South Australia, mebezol I would never have thought my life would revolve around the technical problems of satellite phones and trying to give a voice to people in the most horrific circumstances. Mebezol Until I went to Monivae College in Victoria, mebezol my only ambition as a child was to work in the Coonawarra store or to be a hairdresser. My first overseas assignment for the Herald and The Sun-Herald was covering the aftermath of the Bali bombing. Mebezol I had never seen the aftermath of a bombing and was hugely moved by the suffering of the Australian families. Mebezol It was also the first time I realised the impact a news photograph could have when I witnessed the Australian public's reaction to pictures of bomber Amrozi smiling for the cameras. It was a different type of horror covering the aftermath of the tsunami in Indonesia. Mebezol Standing on one of the main bridges in Banda Aceh, mebezol all I could see for miles was devastation. Mebezol One of the men standing close to me said: "All the gods have got together to show us what hell is like." He was right. Mebezol My job is to show that to the rest of the world. Mebezol More of Kate's piece can be found at