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Dublin: 12°C Thursday 19 May 2022

Israel spokesperson says flotilla activists "think they live in a Bond movie"

Israel has asked for evidence linking its agents to sabotage of the Irish boat the MV Saoirse. Meanwhile the Tánaiste says the government would take a very serious view if it was sabotage.

Protesters outside Leinster House on Wednesday
Protesters outside Leinster House on Wednesday
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE ISRAELI FOREIGN Ministry has asked for evidence to support allegations that Israeli agents were involved in damaging the Irish boat the MV Saoirse, which was due to take part in a flotilla bound for Gaza.

The spokesperson has dismissed the allegations, saying the activists “think they live in a James Bond movie”

The Irish Ship to Gaza group claims that the MV Saoirse was sabotaged as it was docked in the Turkish town of Gocek.The damage was noticed after some members of the crew took the boat for a test run, and on the way back to port noticed that “something was very wrong with the boat”.

The group says that deep cuts were evident on the propeller shaft and that the shaft was “seriously and dangerously bent”. The group believes that:

The sabotage was intended to endanger and/or inflict injury or death on Irish citizens as they went about their lawful right to sail on the high seas.

Irish Ship to Gaza has released images of damage to the propeller shaft

The Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore has said that if evidence emerges that the boat was sabotaged, then the Irish goverment would “take a very serious view of it” if those claims turn out to be true, reports the Irish Times.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson has said that the allegation of sabotage as “paranoid aspersions” designed to create headlines, reports Bloomberg. Yigal Palmor asked:

Does anyone have the slightest piece of what could remotely be presented as evidence to support these allegations?

Palmor said of the flotilla group:

They should come out of the film world and start getting real. This is not Hollywood, and Israel is not the bad guy. We are not surprised that the rule they live by is that if anything goes wrong, accuse Israel.

Irish Ship to Gaza claims that the damage done to the MV Saoirse is almost identical to that done to a Swedish boat which was docked in the Greek port of Piraeus.

The Irish Times reports that the Israeli embassy in Dublin has said that Israel has no information about the incident. A spokesperson has said that they are “not connected to it in any way”.

The flotilla has been delayed, which is now down to nine boats from an original 15, hope to set sail this weekend. Six of the Irish group have now joined the crew of an Italian-based ship, while others have already returned to Dublin.

The Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said that troops are “better prepared than in the past” and that “the working assumption for the forces is that they could meet very violent resistance”, reports Reuters.

Earlier this week several Israeli ministers accused the Israeli army of “spin” over claims that activists on board the flotilla had plans to harm soldiers. Associated Press reports that Maariv newspaper quoted unnamed members of the country’s security cabinet as saying the claims were “media spin” and “public relations hysteria”.

Maariv reported that security cabinet members believed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to say that flotilla posed a threat in order to “cover himself” is there are casualties.

“There is increasing reason to fear that this is spin. Nothing of the information that was disseminated to the media was presented to us,” another minister told Maariv on condition of anonymity.

On Monday, Israeli military spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovitz said there were “radical elements” among the activists participating in the sea convoy, including some carrying “dangerous incendiary chemicals.”

Mv Saoirse engineer Pat Fitzgerald inspects the damage to the boat:

Dr. Fintan Lane, co-ordinator of the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign:

- Additional reporting by AP

About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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