Irish flotilla ship will not sail to Gaza due to extensive sabotage

It pains me to write this.

IRISHSHIPTOGAZA.ORG

Terrible news has reached us in the early hours of Thursday – the Irish Ship To Gaza, MV Saoirse, has been SABOTAGED, presumably by agents of Israel. The damage is extensive, and indeed, if it had gone undetected apparently may have been lıfe-threatenıng if the ship had been at sea.

This is an unacceptable act of aggression against an Irish vessel (which is sovereign Irish territory), against the Freedom Flotilla, and most importantly against the people of Palestine which this flotilla was intending to reach in an act of humanitarian solidarity.

Irishtimes.com has also reported the Irish ship, the MV Saoirse, is no longer taking part in the flotilla because it has been “dangerously” sabotaged.

“This was the type of sabotage that endangered human life,” Mr Lane said last night. “They put divers under the boat who cut a piece out of the propeller shaft. That means that the damage would have happened gradually and what would have happened eventually is that the propeller would have come up through the bottom of the boat, caused a flood in the engine room and would have caused the boat to sink.”

He said the attack was “unnerving” for the crew, classifying it as a “violent attack” on the lives of those aboard. He said pictures detailing the damage to the ship would be published by the campaign today during a press conference in Dublin.

Mr Lane said that, due to the extent of the damage, the MV Saoirse would not be in a position to sail, adding that just six of the 20-plus crew who had been due to set sail would be able to take part in the flotilla by joining an Italian-based vessel today.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 58 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Bumblebye says:

    Dammit!
    The Irish government was perhaps the most vociferous in its warnings to Israel not to harm its citizens. Pathetic cowardice of Israel, terrified of unarmed siege-breakers.

  2. ToivoS says:

    Amira Hass has the lead on Haaretz on these developments:

    link to haaretz.com

    She is making the very sensible point that these acts of sabotage and legal delays are putting the whole story of the Gaza siege on the front pages of newspapers around the world. No sentient observer doubts that Israel is behind these acts. Thus even if no ship leaves port the political goals of the flotilla are being achieved. However, we all know that some of the ships will set sail. Therefore making their voyage and confrontation with the Israeli navy even more newsworthy.

    Poor Israel is being pummeled in the eyes of the world no matter what they do now. Literally, the whole world is watching. Anything Israel tries at this point to divert attention is the equivalent of pouring more gasoline on a growing public relations conflagration.

    However this turns out the flotilla is turning out to be a great success. Also for those of us who were worried about the safety of the volunteers on those boats and ships, there is good news in this — with this intense publicity Israel’s option to engage in another atrocity is greatly reduced. I noticed in the same Haaretz issue, that Barak is trying to turn down the heat and divert attention away from the flotilla. He is basically trying to say — no big deal. Sorry Barak it is a big deal and you are in the spotlight.

    • seafoid says:

      What has been most striking about the flotilla response is the unanimity in Israel that the flotilla must not get through. I have seen Bibi and Barak and some IDF clown and they all parrot the same line. .
      They will never ever relent on Gaza. There is no plan B. Gazans are not human in the Israeli mindset.

      I found this quote today from March 20 2009

      “I felt there was a lot of thirst for blood,” one soldier is quoted as saying. “This is the beauty of Gaza. You see a person walking down a street or path; he does not have to be with a weapon. You just have to see him with something, and you shoot him.”

      This is the logic of the blockade. It drives the autism of the IDF and the insanity of the Israeli government’s response to the flotilla. It is much worse than Jim Crow.

      There is another aspect of the beauty of Gaza. Israel’s hatred of Gaza is so all consuming that it drives Israel to act consistently, irrationally and ever more intensively against its own self interest.

    • Kathleen says:

      link to ustogaza.org

      Passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, invite Greek and international media to inspect The Audacity of Hope at 3 pm Athens time on Thursday, June 30, in the town of Perama (next to Piraeus), 42 Democratis.

      The entire boat will be open for view, photography, and video. The captain, crew, and passengers on the boat will be available for interviews and inspection. The cargo of the ship – 3,000 letters from Americans to the people of Gaza – will also be available for view, photographs, and video. Everything that will be on the boat when it sets sail, including food and passengers’ personal medications for use during their voyage, will be available for inspection.

      The Audacity of Hope was inspected by Greek officials on Monday, June 27 after a complaint was lodged by an Israeli group that the vessel was not seaworthy. We have not yet received notification of their findings nor a copy of their report, but we are certain that our boat is up to code. Meanwhile, Israeli officials have made outrageous allegations that passengers on the flotilla will be bringing “sacks of sulfur” to pour on Israeli soldiers. Even Members of Israel’s own security cabinet have dismissed these charges as “media spin” and “public relations hysteria.”* We invite the media onto our boat to conduct a thorough inspection. We are confident that such an inspection will show that our boat is “sulfur-free” and ready to sail.

      “On behalf of the 36 passengers and 4 crew on The Audacity of Hope, I invite the media to ask us anything, inspect anything, taste our food, look inside our bags” said Gale Courey Toensing, a passenger on the American boat. “Our voyage is totally transparent and we have nothing to hide. All we want to do is sail to Gaza with our cargo of letters from Americans to the people of Gaza.”

  3. Thank goodness they did not set sail, and the extensive damage was detected beforehand. It seems that this damage, whomever may have caused it, could have resulted in the loss of life of everyone on board, as well as the massive amount of urgently needed aide for the starving masses in Gaza.

    I’m curious if the ship was insured? I had read previously that since the ship was planning on breaking a blockade that is legal under international maritime law, that insurance was withheld for the vessel. If that is the case, this may set back the anti-zionist movement quite a bit.

    The remaining ships should be thoroughly checked for damage. I don’t see any ships sailing at all towards the sovereign Jewish state of Israel under these circumstances.

    • Chaos4700 says:

      I don’t see any ships sailing at all towards the sovereign Jewish state of Israel under these circumstances.

      You don’t have to worry about that! None of them are planning on sailing to Israel, “Jewish state” or otherwise. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the only circumstances that these ships will end up in an Israeli port is if they’re stormed by pirates, hijacked, some of the passengers are shot execution style and the rest are herded into (hopefully temporary) prison camps on so-called “Jewish” soil.

      • Citizen says:

        The flotilla is not sailing into Israeli waters; nor is it sailing into Gaza waters since Gaza is not a state; it’s sailing into de facto neutral waters bordering Gaza. Hence Israel has no legal right to stop the flotilla. Further, Israel is not living up to its duty to prevent the occupied folks from starving–a slow starvation “diet” and lack of emergency access to medical services is not walking the fine line of Israel’s duty to provide basic humanitarian aid to those it blockades and lays seige to. It’s out of line.

    • annie says:

      i’m sure israel is the last place the ships are intending to sail under any circumstances.

      but you already know that.

    • kalithea says:

      I’d like to tell you what I think of your feigned concern! You’re real good at spinning specious turd, but let me tell you what you can’t spin: ZIONIST TERRORISM, because that’s exactly what these vile criminal acts and intent to cause lethal harm to innocent civilians amount to!

    • talknic says:

      maximalistNarrative

      A) “Thank goodness they….etc etc etc..”

      Sick bucket anyone?

      B) “I don’t see any ships sailing at all towards the sovereign Jewish state of Israel “

      Gaza is in Israel now is it? AMAZING!! I.e., amazing how maximalistNarrative’s propensity for arrogance unconsciously overflows.

      • Citizen says:

        Maybe that international flotilla should go up the Potomoc River to Washington DC? Would be interesting to hear the WH daily briefing on that, and watch how various governmental regimes interact, and see if the American press even covers the story.

  4. richb says:

    On January 6, 2009 Israel signed the “Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation” which is an anti-terrorism treaty that states:

    1. Any person commits an offence if that person unlawfully and intentionally:

    (d) places or causes to be placed on a ship, by any means whatsoever, a device or substance which is likely to destroy that ship, or cause damage to that ship or its cargo which endangers or is likely to endanger the safe navigation of that ship; or
    —-

    1. Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offences set forth in article 3 when the offence is committed:

    (a) against or on board a ship flying the flag of the State at the time the offence is committed; or


    States Parties shall co-operate in the prevention of the offences set forth in article 3, particularly by:

    (a) taking all practicable measures to prevent preparations in their respective territories for the commission of those offences within or outside their territories;

  5. Proton Soup says:

    call it what it is. state-sponsored terrorism.

  6. RoHa says:

    An Irish ship is sabotaged in a Greek port, presumably by Israeli forces. Neither country is at war with Israel and the ship is not intended for hostile purposes.

    It looks as though Israel is at war with everyone.

  7. sycamore says:

    I vacilate between thinking that Israel can spin any turd into gold and that they’re going to carry a big black eye on this one. In the turd to gold scenario, they claim they saved lives by sabotage, and that this was the more humane act. Seeing as the world has already given them permission to commit whatever sovereignty violating action they like throughout the globe, they come off as heroes.

    In the black eye scenario, this is just one more wearying act of bullshit for a world’s generation that has no special feelings for Israel and doesn’t frighten at the accusation of anti-semitism.

  8. NickJOCW says:

    This was clearly a serious criminal act that potentially endangered many lives. It ought to be possible to identify the perpetrators and bring them to public justice. The Irish authorities should be encouraged to undertake a criminal investigation. If Dubai can do it so can Ireland. This sort of thing is totally unacceptable as an internal issue but with international involvement, if that is the case, it approaches an act of war. Is it possible Israel has handed the world a golden gun?

    • Citizen says:

      But “the world” with power is not taking the golden gun offered. Instead it’s ganging up on BDS: link to hudson-ny.org

      • NickJOCW says:

        I accept that but it is still a top priority to find the perpetrators of this crime and uncover any Israeli links, should they exist, because even those neutral to the issue of flotillas will be roused by such a vicious and irresponsible act. I am waiting for Lieberman to claim the sabotage was the work of activists terrorists to cast blame on Israel.

  9. I hope that all the other activists redouble their efforts and GUARD their ships!

    Steel conducts sound and heat very effectively and there is no way this kind of sabotage could be done entirely silently and quickly. If the ship was well guarded then there is a great chance the diver(s) who attempted the sabotage be discovered.

    The arrest of an Israeli diver(s) engaged in sabotage would be a major success for the flotilla.

    • Citizen says:

      The Canadian flotilla boat has been put under constant guard by the crew as more and more boats are being sabotaged by Israel Firsters. “We have learned that an Israeli law center financed by an American conservative, religious group, headed by John Hagee, is funding the attack on the Gaza flotilla. We call on the Greek government to let us sail,” said Ann Wright, a former US State Department official with the flotilla. link to gazatvnews.com

      • Kathleen says:

        Thanks citizen just sent this to the BBC please join me

        “Retired American and former US State Dept official Colonel Ann Wright who is on the US boat to Gaza “The Audacity of Hope” has demanded that the Greek government allow the flotilla to sail…especially after the alleged Israeli attack on the Irish ship. I guess the Greek government needs to ask the International Monetary Fund the World Bank, Israel and the US first.

        Please interview Colonel Ann Wright about these issues.

        We call on the Greek government to let us sail,” said Ann Wright, a former US State Department official with the flotilla. link to gazatvnews.com

        Email them now while they are on air. They did mention the Israeli attack on the Irish ship

        Have had lots of comments and questions read on the BBC, Diane Rehm, Talk of the nation etc.

        Give it a shot. Email the BBC. Link above

    • Kathleen says:

      I am actually surprised that they would have not pre-emptively thought about this. Would have had to have underwater surveillance. Hopefully there is an international investigation.

  10. Kathleen says:

    Ok the Diane Rehm show is focused on the Greek economic situation and the protest.

    link to thedianerehmshow.org
    Pile on ask them while they are covering the secure passage of the legislation that will ensure international lending institutions their billions. Will the Diane Rehm show cover the US boat to Gaza’s “secure passage” out of Greek waters into international territory?

    Let the Rehm team know that you have noticed that they have not touched the international flotilla story. That they do not touch the expansion of illegal settlements etc either. Is the Diane Rehm show Isreali occupied territory?

    Ask on the Rehm blog for all to see
    link to thedianerehmshow.org

  11. Les says:

    The media has failed to find out who the locals are who are working with Israel to sabotage the Gaza flotilla. NPR just reported that 1500 “journalists” will be covering the visit of Prince William and Kate Middleton to Canada. So few journalists are assigned to do actual news reporting these days.

    • Kathleen says:

      NPR….basically Israeli occupied territory. Often repeat the I lobbies and Israels unsubstantiated claims about Iran. Often do bad bad bad Iran stories

  12. lysias says:

    Perhaps just coincidentally, Joe Biden’s wife Jill on the morning of June 28th visited the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Ramage, which happened to be off the coast of Athens. On Board the USS RAMAGE: Dr. Jill Biden Visits with Sailors in Greece. Wouldn’t that have been around the time the first boat was sabotaged in Piraeus harbor?

    I wonder what the Ramage’s mission is for being in Greece, and whether it is carrying any SEALs.

  13. lysias says:

    The culprits are apparently posing as fishermen. Amira Hass: Israel also sabotaged Irish ship, say Gaza flotilla organizers:

    Some flotilla participants who are staying in neighborhoods near the ships have reported suspicious activity. For instance, some said they had been mugged on the street at several different locations and that their cell phones had been stolen. There have also been reports of the sudden appearance of “fishermen” near water polluted with gasoline and diesel fuel, fisherman who had neither bait nor buckets. Even without a background in intelligence, the delegates have concluded that the strange fisherman have more to do with the flotilla than with fish. The baitless anglers have already become the subject of jokes among flotilla participants.

    • kalithea says:

      Zionists believe the means justify the end…any means; mug, injure, kill the wrong person, killing innocent people trying to help the victims of the scourge of Occuption.

      They consider themselves above the law and the rest of humanity.

      • Lightbringer says:

        Wrong.
        It is so-called “peace activists” who consider themselves above the law and are going to breach a legal blockade to support terrorist organization.

        • RoHa says:

          “It is so-called “peace activists” who consider themselves above the law”

          What law? Be specific.

          “are going to breach a legal blockade”

          What legal blockade?

          ” to support terrorist organization”

          No, to bring aid to the people of Gaza.

        • Lightbringer says:

          “What law? Be specific.”
          Law which allows to impose naval blockade during war.

          “What legal blockade?”
          One Israel imposes on Gaza.

          “No, to bring aid to the people of Gaza.”
          5000 letters it is a significant aid.
          They must be edible, these letters, and envelopes might be used to build houses.

          Now seriously: There is no need whatsoever to breach blockade to deliver aid – there is official channels which work more than efficiently.
          Therefore this flotilla is a political act to make a point and not to provide aid.

        • Citizen says:

          The over-riding point is that the blockade/seige is illegal under international law. And this point has been documented many times on this web site, oh Darkbringer. Similarly, the occupation is illegal and “administered” illegally.

        • RoHa says:

          “Law which allows to impose naval blockade during war.”

          Exactly what law is that, and how does it apply in this case?

          ‘“What legal blockade?”
          One Israel imposes on Gaza.’

          But that blockade has been shown to be illegal under international law.

          “5000 letters”
          And what terrorist organization is going to use them to carry out mass murders?

          “There is no need whatsoever to breach blockade to deliver aid – there is official channels which work more than efficiently.”

          Pull the other one.

          “Therefore this flotilla is a political act to make a point ”

          And why shouldn’t it be? Why is it wrong to make a point about Irael’s monstrous treatment of Gaza?

        • talknic says:

          Lightbringer July 1, 2011 at 5:27 am

          ” Law which allows to impose naval blockade during war”

          Er…that’s the law that allows the occupier to impose a blockade. It’s not the law that prevents folk from attempting to break a blockade.

          NO SUCH LAW EXISTS. Under International Law the occupied have a right to assistance from ANYONE who cares to give goods, aid and even arms.

          “…this flotilla is a political act to make a point and not to provide aid

          Correct. You can’t eat (or bomb Israel) with letters

      • ddi says:

        “They consider themselves above the law ”

        No kidding

        “I was the Minister of Justice. I am a lawyer…But I am against law — international law in particular. Law in general.”

        -Tzipi Livni

  14. kalithea says:

    Unfortunately, Greek authorities are otherwise occupied and probably don’t have the level of sophisticated investigative ability Dubai authorities demonstrated. There is, however, no difference between these acts of sabotage and attempt to do lethal harm to innocent civilians and the extra-judicial assassination we witnessed in Dubai.

    I suggest that next time, surveillance equipment be installed at the next port of departure for the Flotilla so that these TERRORISTS can be caught red-handed!

    • lysias says:

      This latest bit of sabotage happened in a Turkish port, not a Greek one.

      • kalithea says:

        Yes, I know, but my point is that knowing the Flotilla is threatened in every way, there should be some kind of security aparatus where they dock to protect it. That’s the least that governments can do. We are dealing with ruthless agents who are trained killers.

  15. lysias says:

    Revised Irish Times article gives the cost of the damage: Irish Gaza aid ship abandons mission:

    Almost €130,000 was raised in Ireland to fund the humanitarian mission, which planned to take medication and sports equipment to Gaza. Repairs to the vessel – which arrived in the port of Gocek in early June – will cost an estimated €15,000.

  16. lysias says:

    More details from Monthly Review: Sabotage of MV Saoirse in Turkey:
    ‘An Act of International Terrorism’
    :

    Commenting on the attack from Göcek in Turkey, Dr Fintan Lane, national coordinator of Irish Ship to Gaza, who own the vessel, said: “This is an appalling attack and should be condemned by all right-thinking people. It is an act of violence against Irish citizens and could have caused death and injury. If we had not spotted the damage as a result of a short trip in the bay, we would have gone to sea with a dangerously damaged propeller shaft and the boat would have sunk if the hull had been breached. Imagine the scene if this had happened at nighttime.”

    He continued: “One of the most shocking aspects is the delayed nature of the sabotage. It wasn’t designed to stop the ship from leaving its berth; instead, it was intended that the fatal damage to the ship would occur while she was at sea and this could have resulted in the deaths of several of those on board. This was a potentially murderous act.”

    Dr Lane, who was on board Challenger 1 in last year’s flotilla, said: “The Freedom Flotilla is a non-violent act of practical and humanitarian solidarity with the people of Gaza, yet Israel continues to use threats and violence to delay its sailing. They attacked us in international waters last year; now they are attacking us in Turkish and Greek ports. There is no line that Israel won’t cross.”

    . . .

    Also speaking from Göcek, the skipper of the MV Saoirse, Shane Dillon, said: “The damage sighted and inspected on the starboard propeller shaft on the MV Saoirse had the potential to cause loss of life to a large number of those aboard. The nature of the attack and malicious damage was such that under normal circumstances the vessel would most likely have sunk at sea. If the ship was operating at high engine revs, the damage done by the saboteurs would have caused the shaft to shear and the most likely outcome would be the rupturing of the hull and the vessel foundering. If, as was intended, the vessel had proceeded to Gaza at reduced revs, the stern tube would have been forced off line and a large and rapid ingress of water would have resulted, sinking the vessel.”

    Mr Dillon continued: “The shaft was filmed and photographed when the vessel was lifted from the water on Wednesday afternoon in a shipyard in the Turkish coastal village of Göcek. A local marine engineer inspected the shaft and his opinion was that the interference was the work of professional saboteurs intent on disabling the Saoirse. However, the most shocking aspect of the attack was that its intention was to cause failure of the shaft when the vessel was offshore and this shows a total disregard for human life.”

    He ended: “It is also worth noting that the damage inflicted on the Saoirse was identical to that caused to the Greek/Swedish ship, the Juliano, which was sabotaged in the Greek port of Piraeus a few days ago.”

    Pat Fitzgerald, a Sinn Fein member of Waterford County Council and chief engineer on the Saoirse, commented: “We were very lucky to discover this act of sabotage when we did. We felt vibrations from the shaft as we were returning to the berth on Monday evening following a short trip in the bay for refuelling purposes. Close inspection by divers on Tuesday and then on land on Wednesday revealed a large man-made gouge on one side of the propeller shaft. The integrity of the shaft had been compromised and a very serious bend had developed. This could have caused fatalities had we set to sea and almost certainly would have sunk the boat when the engine revs were increased. It was an act of sheer lunacy and endangered the lives of all on board.”