Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

31. The Israeli Sea, aka the Mediterranean.

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Sabotage of M.V. Saoirse an ‘act of international terrorism

30 June 2011, from the Free Gaza Team:

The Irish ship MV Saoirse has been sabotaged in the port of Göcek, Turkey, where it has been at berth for the past few weeks, preparing to join Freedom Flotilla 2.

Photographs and video footage of the undership sabotage, carried out by divers, are available from the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign.

The saboteurs cut, gouged or filed a piece off the propeller shaft.  This has weakened the integrity of the shaft, causing it to bend when put in use.  The sabotage was very similar to that caused to the Juliano, another flotilla ship, in Greece. The consequent damage would have occurred gradually as the ship was sailing and could have led to a dangerous breach of the hull.

The Irish Ship to Gaza campaign believes that Israel must be viewed as the chief suspect in this professional and calculated act of sabotage. [MR: Israeli military officials have claimed in the press that they would stop the Freedom Flotilla “without contact.”  By this they appear to have meant that they assume the right to attack civilian boats, with impunity, anywhere they choose in national and international waters throughout the Mediterranean.  There seem to be few lines the Israeli regime won’t cross in its determination to enforce the illegal, suffocating blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.]

From Göcek, Turkey, the national coordinator of the Irish Ship, Dr Fintan Lane, commented, “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 if the hull had been breached the boat would have sunk.  Imagine if this had happened at night.”

He continued, “One of the most shocking aspects is that the sabotage was calculated not to stop the ship from leaving its berth, but to damage it fatally once it was at sea, which could have resulted in the deaths of passengers, Irish citizens. This was a potentially murderous act.

“Israel is the only party likely to have carried out this reckless action, and it is essential that the Irish government and the executive in Northern Ireland insist that those who ordered this act of international terrorism be brought to justice.  This was carried out in a Turkish town and shows no respect for Turkish sovereignty or international law.”

Dr Lane concluded, “It is important that everybody make their voices heard in solidarity with the people of Gaza and in support of the flotilla.  The Israeli embassy should become a focal point for street demonstrations.”

The sabotage has been reported to the harbour master in Göcek, and Irish Ship to Gaza participants are asking for a full investigation by the Turkish police.

The repairs have yet to be fully costed but could exceed 15,000 euros and will take some time, meaning that the Saoirse cannot participate in Freedom Flotilla 2.

Six of the 20 crew and passengers due to sail on the Saoirse will join the Italian/Dutch ship.

The MV Saoirse will be repaired and used in future flotillas to Gaza.

Author: Michael Riordon

Canadian writer and documentary-maker Michael Riordon writes/ directs/produces books and articles, audio, video and film documentaries, plays for radio and stage. A primary goal of his work is to recover voices and stories of people who have been silenced or marginalized, written out of the official version: First Nations (aboriginal) youth, Mozambican farmers, inmates in Canadian prisons, traditional healers in Fiji, queer folk across Canada, Guatemalan labour activists. Michael also leads courses, workshops and seminars for community organizations, trade unions, schools, colleges and universities.

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