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Irish ship joins flotilla to challenge Israel blockade

The two-boat flotilla bound for Gaza has reached Mediterranean waters but Israel’s navy says it is prepared to stop it.

Fintan Lane, organiser of Irish Ship to Gaza is on board the MV Saoirse.
Fintan Lane, organiser of Irish Ship to Gaza is on board the MV Saoirse.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE IRISH SHIP MV Saoirse which is en route to the Gaza strip has reached international waters in the Mediterranean Sea.

The vessel is joined by a Canadian boat Tahrir on a mission aimed at breaking Israel’s blockade of the waters.

Dubbed Freedom Waves to Gaza, the two-boat flotilla is due to sail from the international waters directly to Gaza, avoiding Israeli territorial waters.

The two civilian vessels are carrying 27 pro-Palestinian activists from nine countries.

Organisers say this is the 11th attempt to break the blockade via the sea but only five previous missions arrived safely. All of the others were intercepted by Israeli military.

Activists claim the Irish vessel Saoirse was sabotaged while docked in a port in Turkey in June. It has been under repair ever since and about €140,000 has been raised by the Irish Ship to Gaza organisation to fund the latest journey.

Passengers on board the two vessels say they hope to reach the shores of Gaza in a couple of days.

“The only obstacles in our way are Israel’s military,” the group, which is comprised of Irish, Canadian, Australian, American, Greek, Palestinian, Polish and Egyptian activists, say.

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“The Freedom Waves to Gaza emerged from the Freedom Flotilla initiatives,” explains Irish Ship to Gaza organiser Fintan Lane from on board the MV Saoirse. “While the Freedom Waves to Gaza will be delivering some much-needed medicines, our primary goal is to help free Palestinians from their inhumane isolation in what is in effect an open air prison.”

However, Al Jazeera is reporting that Israel’s navy has said it will attempt to stop the two boats.

According to reports, the Israeli military spokesman’s office said the navy was “prepared to contact” the vessels and will prevent them from reaching their destination.

The two boats left the port of Fethiye in southwest Turkey on Wednesday with permission to sail to the Greek island of Rhodes.

See TheJournal.ie‘s previous coverage of the MV Saoirse>

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