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Irish to board another boat on Gaza 'freedom flotilla'

Former rugby player Trevor Hogan says he and five others from damaged MV Saoirse will join Italian ship on mission.

Trevor Hogan speaking in Dublin on 20 June
Trevor Hogan speaking in Dublin on 20 June
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

SIX OF THE Irish ‘freedom flotilla’ group whose boat was damaged while docked in a Greek port are to join another crew and continue on to Gaza.

Former rugby player Trevor Hogan told RTE Radio1′s Morning Ireland that he and five others had volunteered to board an Italian-based ship which is also making the trip to Gaza. It emerged overnight that the MV Saoirse, the Irish ship which was to bring aid to Gaza, had sustained damage to a propeller.

The Irish Ship to Gaza group claimed that the damage was “extensive” and an “act of sabotage”. Hogan said this morning that the damage consisted of a small piece missing from a propeller. He said, however, that the missing part “would have resulted in the ship sinking”:

Undoubtedly there would have been loss to life. It was a tiny thing (that was missing) but it would have caused the boat to sink… Thankfully our crew and our skipper were able to spot there was something not right with the ship. If they hadn’t we would have all been on board.

The flotilla group held a meeting last night to discuss their next move and it was decided that some would transfer to an Italian ship and continue on to Gaza. Hogan asked that the remaining nine ships in the flotilla be given safe passage and that they hoped to sail this coming weekend.

Horgan added his claims to those of the Irish Ship to Gaza group that Israeli agents were to blame for the damage to the boat. He said:

It was similar to damage to the Swedish boat – you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out who is behind this.

Earlier this week, activists claimed that Israel damaged the propeller of a Swedish ship in Pireaus. Israel has not commented on those allegations.

Activist Huwaida Arraf described the damage to the MV Saoirse to Israel’s Army Radio today. He said:

When the engine was started, it completely bent. While out at sea, if this would have happened, if it would have bent in this way, the boat would have started taking on water and it could have led to fatalities.

Between 300 and 400 activists had been due to set sail this week from Gaza to try to breach the naval blockade Israel imposed after anti-Israel Hamas militants overran the Palestinian territory in 2007. It is not clear when they will set sail on their journey, which is expected to take several days.

Last year, an Israeli raid on a similar flotilla killed nine activists on a Turkish vessel, the Mavi Marmara. Each side blamed the other for the violence.

- additional reporting by AP

Irish ‘freedom flotilla’ ship damaged in port>

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