Concern for Irish passengers as communication lines cut
At least 9 international human rights activists may have been killed and dozens more injured after Israeli commandos attacked the unarmed Gaza Freedom Flotilla early this morning in international waters, according to reports from the flotilla organisers, while Israeli military sources confirmed at least 9 dead. This attack is a clear breach of international law.
No word has been received on the condition of the three Irish passengers as the satellite phone on the Challenger 1 on which they were passengers is not contactable. The IPSC expresses its concern for these brave people we hope that they are safe.
Israel has imposed a gag order on reporting on the attack
Live-streaming video showed images of Israeli commandos descending from helicopters at around 4am this morning, and reports say that they proceeded to use live ammunition against the ships passengers. Video also showed casualties on the boat. The attack happened as the flotilla entered an arbitrarily imposed Israeli ‘military exclusion zone’ in international waters around Gaza, as the captain of the Turkish IHH ship the Mavi Marmara refused a military order to turn back.
Although reports remain unclear, with no line of communication to the boats, it appears that Israeli forces have now hijacked the flotilla and are some 30 miles away from the Israeli port of Ashdod where they will dock. The ships are due to reach the port in the next two hours. Other reports suggest that they may divert to the port of Haifa where there are no media. Upon arrival, the Israeli military have stated that all Israeli participants will be arrested, Palestinians will be questioned by Israeli secret police and internationals will be deported or held in a detention centre if they contest deportation.
On board the ship are hundreds of civilians – including parliamentarians - attempting to bring 10,000 tonnes of supplies and humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip which has been under an illegal Israeli-imposed siege for the past three years.
All the Palestinian factions were united in their condemnation, and the Palestinian Authority called it an act of piracy and declared a three-day state of mourning.
Mustafa Baraghout, an independent member of the Palestinian Legislative Council called the attack “a declaration of war on many countries, including Turkey, Sweden and Ireland”.
Dr. David Landy, Chair of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “This act of Israeli piracy is a clear breach of international law. The fact that Israel would allow its forces to kill and wound international human rights activists shows the world once again that Israeli is a rogue state that acts with impunity. It is high-time for this impunity to be ended and for Israeli to be brought to account for its disregard for international law.”
Dr. Landy continued: “Israel has claimed that it no longer occupies Gaza. If this is the case, then why did they prevent this humanitarian aid flotilla from reaching Gaza? The hypocrisy of the Israeli state is simply astounding, and it is time for the international community to take serious action against Israel. We demand justice both for those murdered today and the Palestinian people for whom such acts are, unfortunately, commonplace.”
The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign has called a protest for this evening, (Monday 31st May) at 6pm, assembling at the Spire on O’Connell Street, Dublin 1 which will then march to the Israeli Embassy in Ballsbridge. Speakers at the event will be Aengus O Snodaigh TD and Chris Andrews TD, both of whom were refused access to the flotilla by the Cypriot authorities after coming under severe pressure from Israel. The IPSC is calling on people in Ireland to show their outrage at this murderous attack against unarmed solidarity activists by coming out on the streets tomorrow.