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Israeli sabotage results in Irish ship MV Saoirse withdrawing from Freedom Flotilla
international | community struggles | news report Wednesday July 06, 2011 22:21 by Gregor Kerr - WSM
Attempts by the Israeli government to sabotage the International ‘Stay Human’ Freedom Flotilla to Gaza have resulted in 2 ships – the Greek-Swedish Juliano and the Irish-owned MV Saoirse – having to withdraw from the Flotilla following damage to both. An emergency demonstration was held at the Spire in Dublin Thursday 30 June to protest the sabotage, see the pictures below.
Activists aboard the flotilla have accused Israel of being responsible for very similar damage to the propellers of both ships. Spokesperson for ‘Irish Ship to Gaza’, Fintan Lane, has described the sabotage as an act of “international terrorism” the intention of which was “to deter people from participating in flotillas in solidarity with the ordinary people of Gaza”. (see http://irishshiptogaza.org/?p=715)
These acts of sabotage follow weeks of flotilla activists having to cope with numerous bureaucratic obstacles including difficulties insuring the vessels which have been blamed on Israeli authorities.
The remaining ships in the flotilla are now expected to set sail for Gaza in a few days time with July 5th having been announced as the earliest expected departure date. The aim of the flotilla is to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza who continue to suffer the effects of an Israeli naval blockade, and to highlight the ongoing Israeli subjugation of the Palestinian people.
Irish Foreign Affairs minister and Labour Party leader, Eamon Gilmore, has been roundly condemned for recent comments which requested the Israeli government "to exercise all possible restraint….if attempting to uphold their naval blockade" and to carry out any "interception of ships" "in a peaceful manner". The Minister’s comments are being seen as giving the green light to Israeli forces to exercise their claimed right to board ships in international waters and as being a vindication of Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.
Responding to Mr. Gilmore’s statement, the Irish Ship to Gaza Campaign said “Instead of advising Irish citizens against sailing to Gaza in an attempt to break this illegal blockade, it would surely be preferable for Minister Gilmore to tell the Israeli government that any interception of the ships will be treated as a criminal act…”
Last year’s flotilla was attacked by the Israeli military forces in an act of international piracy which resulted in the death of 9 Turkish activists. You can listen to the audio account of their experiences from Fintan Lane and Derek Graham who participated in last year’s flotilla.
WORDS: Gregor Kerr IMAGES: Andrew Flood