THE REMAINING NINE Irish activists detained by Israeli authorities last week after they attempted to break the blockade of Gaza are expected to return home today.
Yesterday confusion reigned over seven of the 14 activists who were due to leave Israel with only five of them arriving back at Dublin airport late last night.
Another two ended up in Istanbul after twice attempting to take a flight from Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv to London but being unable to do so for reasons that are not clear.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has told TheJournal.ie that it has “protested in very strong terms” to the Israeli authorities after they failed to inform British Airways that it was to carry seven deportees on a flight to Heathrow airport yesterday morning.
BA policy is that it limits the number of people it can deport on any one flight and the airline said yesterday it had not been informed it was due to deport the seven activists.
The seven deportees were then rescheduled to board a Lufthansa flight to London yesterday afternoon but only five of them did, with the other two – Irish Ship to Gaza co-ordinator Fintan Lane and lecturer Zoe Lawlor – not making the flight.
Israel said it was because the two activists had committed “an illegal act” according to breakingnews.ie, but the Department of Foreign Affairs told TheJournal.ie that there was an issue over security clearance.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said that he was “very unhappy” with the time it has taken to have the 14 activists returned and specifically cited the issues that arose yesterday.
Gilmore said that he found the problem in relation to security that meant Lane and Lawlor were not allowed to board the Lufthansa flight yesterday afternoon “difficult to understand.”
The Irish Ship to Gaza movement said in a statement yesterday evening that Lane and Lawlor were on a flight to Istanbul where they will take a connecting flight at some point today.
The Israeli embassy in Dublin said yesterday that the remaining seven activists in Israel will be on an El Al flight our of the country today.
The 14 pro-Palestinian activists were detained by the Israeli Navy after attempting to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip while on board the MV Saoirse last week.
The pro-Palestinian activists say the blockade is illegal. Israel cites a UN report in maintaining that its blockade is legal because Hamas militants fire deadly rockets into Israel from Gaza.