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Freedom Flotilla of Aid expected to reach Gaza within 48 hours despite threats from the Israeli Navy

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Thursday May 27, 2010 10:25author by Freda H - IPSC Report this post to the editors

The Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, which includes 11 Irish people, expects to arrive at it's destination within 48 hours despite Israel's vow to block the mission from delivering much needed aid to the beleaguered coastal strip. A forum of seven senior Israeli ministers who met on Wednesday 26th May have decided that the Israeli Navy will enforce a twenty mile exclusion zone around Gaza and will arrest all 800 crew and passengers taking part in the Freedom Flotilla should they pursue their mission to break the ongoing siege of Gaza.
Challenger 2 at sea. Racing to Gaza!
Challenger 2 at sea. Racing to Gaza!

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) wishes to express its solidarity with the 'Freedom Flotilla', consisting of nine ships, that is currently attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Among the ships heading towards Gaza is the 1,200 tonne Irish cargo ship, the MV Rachel Corrie, which is owned by the Free Gaza Movement. The ship is carrying a cargo of cement and other vital reconstruction materials for the people of Gaza.

Israel has vowed to block the Freedom Flotilla from docking in Gaza. After a hearing from defence officials a forum of seven senior ministers decided on Wednesday not to let the ships dock, but to offer to unload the cargo inspect it and send it to Gaza via the United Nations.The ministers decided that the ships would be directed to Ashdod by force if necessary. The activists would be arrested and expelled from the country.

Speaking on behalf of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Dr Fintan Lane (IPSC Media Officer and a 'Freedom Flotilla' participant) said: "The siege of Gaza has created a humanitarian and political crisis that cannot be ignored. We are determined to break Israel's blockade and will not be intimidated. The people of Gaza have a right to access to the outside world and the right to determine their own future."

He continued: "The siege of Gaza is a collective punishment against the Palestinian people because they dared to resist Israeli apartheid rule. The suffering that Israel is causing is an outrage and the international community must stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Direct action is entirely appropriate and we intend to make it clear that we stand with the Palestinian resistance to oppression and apartheid. We are not neutral in this struggle for human rights and self-determination."

Aengus O’Snodaigh TD who is also a participant said,“We will not allow our flotilla to be divided. We will stay with our cargo ships – they are the core of the flotilla carrying essential construction materials denied entry into Gaza – cement, steel, and houses. This action is not a symbolic gesture but a concrete intervention to allow the people of Gaza to rebuild their lives with dignity."

In addition to the involvement of the MV Rachel Corrie, a number of Irish politicians and human rights activists will be participating in the flotilla as crew and as passengers. The Irish participants in the flotilla are Denis Halliday (Dublin), Caoimhe Butterly (Dublin/Cork), Chris Andrews TD (Dublin), Fintan Lane (Cork/Dublin), Mairead Maguire (Belfast), Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD (Dublin), Senator Mark Daly (Kerry) and Fiachra Ó Luain (Donegal). The Irish crew members on the MV Rachel Corrie are Derek Graham (Mayo), Jenny Graham (Mayo) and Shane Dillon (Dublin). For further biographical information on the Irish participants, please go to the end of this press release. The participants include members of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Free Gaza Movement.


Denis Halliday was born in Dublin in 1941 and educated at Trinity College Dublin. He is a former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed him to the post of United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq as of 1 September 1997, at the Assistant Secretary-General level, and he served as such until the end of September 1998. He resigned from the post in Iraq and from the United Nations as a whole effective 31 October 1998 after serving the organisation since mid 1964 - some 34 years. He has been a strong opponent of the US/UK-led war in Iraq.

Mairead Maguire, Nobel peace prize laureate, was co-founder of the Community of Peace People for a peaceful resolution of the Northern Ireland conflict. She has been to Palestine several times defending the human rights. In April 2007, she was wounded by the Israeli army while non-violently protesting with Palestinians against the apartheid wall in the village of Bil'in. This will be her third trip to Gaza on board one of the Free Gaza boats.

Derek Graham is from Ballina in County Mayo. He has been a qualified electrician for 20 years. He was a member of the reserve defence forces in Ireland for 21 years and was the first member of the reserves to make the Army sailing team. He has been sailing all of his life and is a crew member on the MV Rachel Corrie. He has participated in many previous Free Gaza boat trips to Gaza and has been on four of the five voyages that landed in Gaza. He is married to Jenny, who is also on the MV Rachel Corrie.

Jenny Graham is from County Mayo and is a member of the Free Gaza Movement. She has participated in previous boat trips to Gaza and is a member of the crew of the MV Rachel Corrie. She is married to Derek Graham.

Shane Dillon is a Dublin-based Irish seafarer who has served as Chief Officer on Irish and British merchant ships. He has sailed on numerous leisure craft on transatlantic trips and in European waters. He is part of the crew of the MV Rachel Corrie.

Caoimhe Butterly (born 1978) is a Dublin-born Irish human rights activist, who has worked with AIDS victims in Zimbabwe, the homeless in New York, and with Zapatistas in Mexico as well as more recently in the Middle East and Haiti. In 2002, during an Israeli attack in Jenin, she was shot by an Israeli soldier. She spent 16 days inside the compound where Yasser Arafat was besieged in Ramallah. She was described by Time magazine as one of their Europeans of the Year in 2003. Butterly is a pacifist who is a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), an organisation that seeks non-violent alternatives to armed intifada by mobilising international civil society. She is a coordinator with the Free Gaza Movement.

Fintan Lane is a writer and historian. He is a member of the National Committee of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Originally from Cork, he now lives in Chapelizod in Dublin. He graduated with a PhD in history from University College, Cork and is the author/editor of seven books on modern Irish history; he has also contributed many articles and reviews to academic history journals. He was the Editor of Saothar, the scholarly journal of Irish labour history, for several years.

Senator Mark Daly is a Fianna Fáil member of Senead Eireann from County Kerry. He was elected as one of the youngest members of the 23rd Senate in the 2007 election and has been active in community affairs and local politics since college. He was born in Kerry in 1973 and holds a Diploma in Property Valuation from Dublin Institute of Technology and a B.Sc. in Management from Greenwich University, London.

Chris Andrews TD (born 25 May 1964) is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He is currently a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin South East constituency. He was first elected to the Dáil at the 2007 general election.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD is a native Irish speaker who was born in Dublin in 1964. Aengus is married to Aisling and has three children. He was first elected in 2002 to the Dáil (Irish parliament) and re-elected in 2007. He is Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on social and family affairs, housing, justice and international affairs. He travelled by boat in November 2008 to Gaza which was (and still is) under siege by Israel.

Fiachra Ó Luain is from County Donegal. He is an Irish peace activist and was an independent candidate in the North-West constituency in the 2009 European elections. He was compelled to become a candidate upon watching the massacres of Israel’s ‘Operation Cast Lead’. He is a member of the Free Gaza Movement.

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 The boats departed from Aghios Nikolaos harbour, Crete, this morning
The boats departed from Aghios Nikolaos harbour, Crete, this morning

Challenger 1 and Challenger 2 before departure for Gaza this morning
Challenger 1 and Challenger 2 before departure for Gaza this morning

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Thu May 27, 2010 13:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

ITS A DIRTY JOB....But if someone doesn't try the bulldozers will bury any humanity that remains,in the Israelis even more than their designated 'enemy '. Safe transit.Great to see an Irish presence,and even a couple of FFers.What a strange party Fianna Fail is.Enough of its roots left to see the fruitlessness of Israeli policy, but not enough gumption to stand up the Mossad passport cloners and expel Zvrony.Respecf to Andrews and Daly for thier presence,but lets hope when they get back they will use their public profiles to call the party on its gutless response to the Dubai hits.Its in Israel's best long term interests that they be deflected from their growing ultra-nationalist paranoia.Given their political intimidation of Washington the consequences are more than just regional.Lets hope the times dont get too much more 'interesting'.If there was the slightest danger of the Israeli ambassador listening there might be a case for his remaining in order to try to influence their chosen methodology.I'm thinking a dose of trade and diplomatic isolation is the only way to bring the US to bear on its proxy.Its not going to come from London,Washington or Brussells without such actions as this attempt.Shalom.

author by Malachy Steenson - Workers Party publication date Thu May 27, 2010 13:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Party calls on Israel to allow safe passage to mercy mission

The President of the Workers Party Michael Finnegan has sent a message of solidarity from the party to the flotilla of boats and small ships which is on its way to Gaza in the Palestinian Territories. The flotilla is carrying material aid to the area which has been blockaded by the Israeli military who have prevented vital supplies from entering the region. The nine ship flotilla includes the Irish ship MV Rachel Corrie which is carrying a cargo of cement and other material for the Palestinian people.

Mr. Finnegan said that the flotilla consisted of material aid and equipment and nothing on board the ships could be a threat to Israel other than the witness borne by those on board to Israel’s illegal collective punishment of the Palestinian people. On board the Rachel Corrie are several members of the Oireachtas, several academics, aid workers, former United Nations official Denis Halliday, and volunteer workers.

The Workers Party President appealed to the Israeli government to allow safe passage to the flotilla and not to impede what was essentially a mercy mission and he called upon the international community, including the Irish government, to take a more active stand against Israeli human rights abuses.

“What Israel is doing to the Palestinian people is a crime under international law. It is also a form of apartheid. In the 1980s the entire world isolated South Africa over its apartheid laws and forced it to change. The same pressure is not being put on Israel because of its close ties with the United States. Until and unless Israel begins to feel the pain economically it will continue to hold the entire Palestinian nation hostage, hijack the best of its land and resources to itself, and treat all Palestinians as terrorists. It is time the world stood up and took a firm attitude to Israel”, said Mr. Finnegan.

Issued 25th May 2010

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author by Mr Manpublication date Thu May 27, 2010 13:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

IDA says that they will pass on aid to gaza strip

Flotilla refuses to pass on letters and food to Gilad Shalit

Israel does ham fisted attempt to damage control - saying they have transferred 1,200 tonnes of aid in past two months even though flotilla is carrying a bit more in one crossing.

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author by V for vendettapublication date Thu May 27, 2010 14:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If your definition of "aid" is high explosives then yeah, they certainly dropped off some aid recently.

mr man, you are a sick apologist for a bunch of murderous criminals. get a decent hobby (or perhaps a more honourable paid occupation???) the weasel words of people like you and the actions of the israeli regime are a horrible embarrassment to all decent jews worldwide

author by Malachy Steenson - Workers Party publication date Thu May 27, 2010 16:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Communist Party of Israel
Dozens of professors joined 800 students in a protest march against settlers in Sheikh Jarrah

Dozens of professors from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem today (Wednesday, May 26) joined some 800 students in a protest march from the university to the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

The crowd protested against the entrance of Jewish settlers into the neighborhood, and the eviction of Arab families from their homes. Among the protestors a former lecturer at Tel-Aviv University, the member of the Knesset, Dov Khenin, a leading Communist Party of Israel member.

During the rally, students and professors called out slogans such as "We won’t sit in class while rights are being trampled" and "We won't learn civil rights with racism in Sheikh Jarrah." The protestors waived signs that read "No sanctity in an occupied city".

Weekly Friday afternoon demonstrations there continuing to draw large crowds, Wednesday's march signified the first "academic protest" in the east Jerusalem neighborhood. Although the march was in no way endorsed by the university, students and professors alike said that the it would be followed by additional such efforts.

Professor Ze'ev Sternhell, who heads Hebrew University's Political Science Department, addressed the crowd after it came to a halt at a park inside the neighborhood. He told journalists that the march was a "new step" for the protest movement in Sheikh Jarrah, and that because of the student-professor cooperation, it marked an evolution historically unseen at peace demonstrations in Israel.

"I can't remember when there was ever something like it in Israel", told Sternhell. "And I'm very happy to see it."
"I think the fact that we're seeing so many people here today, also shows that we've reached a point of crisis in Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah and that dangerous things are happening here that need to stop." Next Friday Sternhell will participate at the annual Marx Forum in Tel-Aviv, held by "Hagada Hasmalit Cultural Center" – an alternative cultural center and radical website supported by the Communist Party.


author by IPSC Waterford - IPSCpublication date Thu May 27, 2010 17:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We watched the newly named M.V. Rachel Corry leave laden with basic humanitarian supplies on her maiden voyage to Gaza. I think it would be fair to say that everybody there and anybody who saw the you tube video, found themselves fighting back tears of pride. It was a different kind of pride, not the same as seeing you favourite team win or the pride one might feel on receiving some sort of prize, but pride in the sense that, in our hearts we knew this is something BIG.

God Bless all who sail for Gaza, to borrow an old Irish saying: May the seas rise to meet you, may the breeze always be at your backs and may you ALL be in Gaza TEN minutes before the Devil (oops I mean Israel) finds out.....

author by Sean Ogpublication date Thu May 27, 2010 19:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Kuwait News Agency, KUNA, has now downgraded the reported claims of "10,000 tons" on the 7 ship aid flotilla heading for Gaza to a mere "10 tons".

I do wonder why ? Is it more realsitic or are the Kuwaitis being devious ?

author by Israels welfarepublication date Thu May 27, 2010 21:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Israelis have been more than generous to the Gazans, The figures speak for themselves...


author by Website Flotillapublication date Fri May 28, 2010 07:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Flotilla Website

Updates, Vids, Background etc.

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author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Fri May 28, 2010 11:41author email libertypics at yahoo dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Should questions be asked by the apparent hypocrisy of at least one of the the participants of the Irish contingent on this mission?

I'm talking about Fiann Fáil TD Chris Andrews?

A face in the crowd on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. Pic © Michael Gallagher 2003
A face in the crowd on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. Pic © Michael Gallagher 2003

author by Ronan OD - IPSCpublication date Fri May 28, 2010 13:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Please take action to support the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla. Simply send a letter to all Irish TDs (their emails and a sample letter are below). Feel free to change the letter to make it was long or as short as you like.

The cut and paste will take two minutes of your day, thanks very much. The Flotilla is under tremendous diplomatic pressure so they need all the support they can get.


TDs Email addresses - just copy and Paste into your email client.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Sample Letter - please change and adapt as you see fit.

Dear Deputy,

I write to express my concern about the fate of the Irish aid ship the MV Rachel Corrie that departed Dundalk last week with essential supplies to join other aid ships in an international flotilla bound for Gaza. No doubt you are well aware of the atrocious conditions imposed on the people of Gaza by Israel for over 40 years, most recently culminating in the illegal collective punishment of the 1.5 million residents by means of siege and a genocidal assault that left over 1400 people dead and many thousands more critically injured.

Media reports have indicated that the Israeli authorities have threatened to prevent the aid ships reaching Gaza. This is no idle threat as previous aid boats have been rammed by the Israeli navy and the brave volunteers, (a number of Irish citizens included) who risked their lives to break the siege, have been detained in Israeli prisons.

It has also been reported that the Irish Ambassador to Israel has been summoned and told by authorities in Tel Aviv that Israel intends to prevent the aid ships getting to Gaza – this despite the fact that the cargo poses no security risk and the ships will not enter Israel’s territorial waters. Interference with the aid ships in international waters would amounts to a blatant act of piracy, another crime to add to Israel’s long criminal record.

The flotilla is due in Gaza at the end of this week and if Israel follows through on its threat the ships, passengers and essential aid on board could be placed in jeopardy by the Israeli forces. I believe it is imperative that Irish politicians act now, before any harm befalls the flotilla, and ask the government to warn the Israeli ambassador of the serious consequences should Israel follow through with its threat to interfere with the safe passage of the Irish aid vessel the MV Rachel Corrie.

I remind you that Israel has already seriously violated Irish sovereignty when it used forged Irish passports to facilitate the murder of a Palestinian man in Dubai earlier this year – and the Irish government has still not taken any action in retribution.

Furthermore the Israeli government continues to impose a devastating and illegal siege on the people of Gaza in defiance of the Geneva Conventions, which the Irish Government is bound to uphold and do all in its power to ensure others conform to the universally accepted standards therein.

Despite this, and the litany of other human rights violations against Palestinians by Israel within and without the territory it controls, the Irish government agreed in June 2008 to the upgrade of EU/Israel relations and most recently to Israel’s membership of the OECD.

If members of the Oireachtas fail now to act decisively and do all in their power to protect Irish citizens on a humanitarian aid mission to bring essential aid to the beleaguered people of Gaza they will have abandoned their responsibility to uphold international law and to protect Irish citizens.

The Israeli ambassador should be informed that if Israel goes ahead with its threat to interfere with the passage of the aid flotilla to Gaza that the Irish government will expel the Israeli ambassador and recall the Irish ambassador from Tel Aviv.

Yours sincerely

[Your name]

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author by Kev - IPSCpublication date Fri May 28, 2010 15:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign is calling for a public demonstration in solidarity with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which is under threat from the Israeli Navy who say they aim to hijack the ships, and their 10,000 tonnes of supplies, and arrest, detain and/or deport their passengers.

We are calling for people to mobilise at 6pm on Monday 31st May at the Spire on O'Connell Street in a public display of support for the brave people of many nationalities - including 11 Irish nationals - who are aiming to break Israel's inhumane 3-year-old seige by sea.

Whether it will be a celebration for the supplies and people reaching their destination or a protest against Israeli piracy on the high seas is in the hands of the Israeli state.


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author by Omar Hawajri . - Social Activist from Palestine -Gazapublication date Fri May 28, 2010 23:07author email work.for.justice at hotmail dot comauthor address Palestine- Gaza Stripauthor phone 00972599687839Report this post to the editors

Dear Macheal,

thank you allot for your really interesting and real solidarity with Palestinian people here.I still believing you are doing allot interesting activities to support Gaza'n and really it 's my great please and honor to express my glad for your solidarity and peacefully struggling with our community.
I wishes the best great for the crew and passengers on the fleet ships to arrive here tomorrow without any dangerous activities by Israeli Navy . and also thank a million for the Irish Activist who have great bio-geographical informations and still doing humanitarian missions for Gaza and West Bank since the Palestinian Second Intifada 2008 and really I think meet some of them here 2 years ago .
again thank you allot hope great and best wishes for the flotilla crew and passengers.
Love AND peace


author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Sat May 29, 2010 14:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just checked the Jerusalem Post. Cyprus distancing itself from supporting flotilla.Oh and thats 'in the national interest'.Musta got a phone call.Looks like Sunday before landfall.If you want a flavour of Israeli rabid response units look no further than the comments at the end of the articles.And I thought the Jesuits were the masters of indoctrination.

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