Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Irish ship sabotaged in Turkish port

The Irish Anti War Movement released a statement  on Friday,01.07.11 condemning the sabotage of the Irish Ship to Gaza - MV Saoirse. The ship was due to sail to Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla 2 last week. The damage is extensive and the ship is now unsafe to sail. The propeller shaft of the ship has been severely damaged and had this not been discovered before the ship set sail it would have seriously endangered the lives of the 25 crew and passengers on board.

Jim Roche, steering committee member and passenger on board has confirmed that the damage was definitely sabotage. He will be returning to Dublin  together with the majority of the other passengers. Six of the passengers will still travel as part of the flotilla on another ship. All passengers are safe despite this malicious act of violence against the Irish vessel (which is Sovereign Irish Territory).

“Initial reports suggest that the official Turkish “investigation” into the sabotage of the Irish ship MV Saoirse that was due to take part in the now Greek-impounded Freedom Flotilla 2 will find that “the breakdown of the ship might not be a result of sabotage” and that even if it was sabotaged, it “was damaged before it entered Turkish waters”.However, the Irish Ship To Gaza campaign view such conclusions with deep suspicion ; “it remains the opinion of the Irish Ship To Gaza campaign that an act of underwater sabotage was conducted against the Irish boat, the MV Saoirse, as it sat in the Turkish port of Göcek”.” Mr Roche declared.

The Organisers of the ISTG believe that it is beyond coincidence that both the Irish ship and the Greek-Scandinavian ship the Juliano (berthed in Piraeus, Greece) suffered almost identical damage  within a week while docked in two separate countries, some three hundred miles from each other.  Both ships were due to take part in Freedom Flotilla Two.

According to the MV Saoirse’s engineer, Pat Fitzgerald, a former fisherman and seaman with twenty years experience with boats:

“There was a gouge taken out of the propeller shaft and it was bent. This shaft was three-inches in diameter, it doesn’t bend easily … Where the actual damage to the propeller was, wasn’t actually the deepest point of the vessel. The propeller was much deeper, probably another half-metre deeper again. The damage couldn’t have happened without hitting the propeller … If we had hit something we’d have known about it, but we didn’t hit anything. Just to be sure that we hadn’t hit anything in the oil jetty, and to be sure that there wasn’t anything unusual there, we sent people to snorkel the area. There was nothing … I’ve been twenty years at sea. I’ve seen all types of underwater damage and I’ve never seen anything like this. It had to have been caused by something that I have never come across. It’s not natural wear-and-tear, it wasn’t accidental damage, it had to be man-made damage; there is no way around it. We can’t find any explanation other than sabotage.

Israeli Deputy Premier hints at sabotage by IDF:

In a further development, renowned blogger and Guardian website columnist, Richard Silverstein, (whom the Israeli newspaper Haaretz  has described as an “international messenger of information which military censorship and Israeli courts forbid publishing), has noted an apparent implicit admission of guilt from Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon on the Hebrew website of Ynet:

Ya’alon, praising the preparatory work of Israel towards the flotilla, said “those problems the Flotilla is having in realizing their plans didn’t just happen. They are thanks to the work of the political echelon whose focus was on diplomatic political issues, and operational work of the IDF to prepare for every possible eventuality”.

The last phrase is doublespeak which both reveals and conceals at the same time, a formulation any Israeli would recognize as not just alluding to an IDF role in sabotage, but practically bragging about it.  What possible role could the IDF be playing currently in frustrating the plans of the Flotilla if it isn’t the round of sabotage that struck the Irish and Swedish ships?

Even the New York Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief, Ethan Bronner, who has ties to the Israeli military, has pointed the finger at Israel, saying:

“Israel, for its part, has been campaigning against the flotilla and perhaps doing more — some of the boats have suffered sabotage”.

Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, shares the same suspicions. He has said that there is:

“Strong circumstantial evidence of Israeli responsibility … It stretches the imagination to suppose that a sophisticated cutting of the propeller shafts of both ships is a coincidence with no involvement by Israel … Israel has so far done little to deny its culpability. Its highest officials speak of the allegations in self-righteous language that is typically diversionary, asserting an irrelevant right of self-defence, which supposedly comes mysteriously into play whenever civil society acts non-violently to break the siege of Gaza.”

The Irish Government's response has been weak and pathetic. Foreign Minister and Deputy Premier, Eamonn Gilmore, stated that the government would wait on the result of the turkish investigation before making a decision. This is not good enough. An Irish vessel with 25 Irish citizens on board has been attacked and serious damage inflicted endangering the lives of all on board. A tacit admission of responsibility has been publicly stated by the Deputy Premier of Israel, Moshe Ya'alon, on a public website in Israel. This is enough, prima facie, for Mr Gilmore to immediately demand an explanation from the Israeli Government, expel the Israeli Ambassador from Dublin with a message for Tel-Aviv that this outrageous action will not be tolerated.

The Irish Government should not be waiting for any Turkish investigation to be completed, Irish Naval engineeers should be immediately despatched to the area to examine the vessel and report back to Dublin forthwith. Nothing less will be accepted by the Irish people.

Áth Cliath/Dublin,
06 Iuil/July 2011.

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