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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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Irish detained from Gaza-bound boats to be deported from Israel

Fourteen people who were on board the Irish ship the MV Saoirse are being held in the Israeli port of Ashdod.

IDF personnel issue a warning to the two boats
IDF personnel issue a warning to the two boats
Image: IDF

FOURTEEN IRISH CITIZENS who were detained after their boat was intercepted by the Israeli navy on the way to Gaza are to be deported from Israel.

The group were aboard to MV Saoirse as part of the Freedom Waves to Gaza campaign, and were accompanied by a Canadian ship called the Tahrir. Both boats were boarded after a warning was issued by the Israeli Defence Forces that they must turn around or dock in Israel or Egypt.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said that all passengers are now being detained in Ashdod in Israel, and that they are pending deportation.

The Irish Ship to Gaza campaign issued a statement last night, saying it has been difficult to communicate with those who were on board the ship. Yesterday they received a text message from retired Ireland and Leinster rugby player Trevor Hogan which read:

Kidnapped, being held against our will. Boat nearly destroyed by Israeli army in international waters. Need government to press for immediate release.

An Al-Jazeera journalist who was on board one of the ships, and who has since been released said that the first of the Israeli personnel who came on board were “very aggressive”, but that the situation soon calmed down.

The IDF has said that the boarding was carried out in line with directives from the Israeli government, and that every precaution necessary was taken to ensure the safety of those on board the boats.

The IDF has said that the activists have now been transferred to the custody of the Israeli police and the immigration authorities. Israeli forces have also released video of the warning issued to the Irish and Canadian boats:

In a statement the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said that his priority has been that no harm should come to any Irish person. He said that his department and the Irish embassy in Tel Aviv have been in constant contact with the Israeli authorities. Gilmore said that the authorities had been urged to exercise restraint when carrying out any interception of the boats.

The Tánaiste has also reiterated that the Gaza blockade is not supported by the government, calling it “contrary to international humanitarian aid”. However he also said that attempts to sail to Gaza are not recommended, because of the safety risks.

In July the Irish Ship to Gaza group claimed sabotage was to blame when the MV Saoirse was damaged while it was docked in the Turkish port of Gocek.

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About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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