Friday 18 January 2019

Irish campaigners held in Israel

Taoiseach Brian Cowen accused Israel of breaking international law
Taoiseach Brian Cowen accused Israel of breaking international law
The Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, Dr Zion Evrony, leaves the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin after he was summoned in the wake of the flotilla attack

Two Irish campaigners were detained in Israel after being arrested on a humanitarian mission to Gaza in which at least 15 people were shot dead.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen demanded an international inquiry into the assault by Israeli commandoes who stormed boats bound for the blockaded Palestinian port.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin claimed Irish citizens had been "kidnapped in international waters".

Israel claimed its troops were acting in self defence but Mr Cowen joined other European leaders in claiming the military operation to halt the flotilla was disproportionate and questioned its legality.

Three Irish campaigners - Dr Fintan Lane, Fiachra O Luain and Shane Dillon - were seized on the Free Gaza boat Challenger 1 which had travelled from Cyprus in the first wave and was boarded by Israeli forces. There were unconfirmed reports another Irishman was injured.

Mr Dillon agreed to be deported while Dr Lane and Mr O Luain vowed to fight the order in court and were being held in the Be'er Sheva detention camp.

Mr Cowen said the Israeli blockade of Gaza was to blame for the shoot-out on the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship, from the pro-Islamic aid group IHH.

"The reason this has happened is there's a blockade taking place at the moment in respect of humanitarian assistance being provided to Gaza, to the people of Gaza. I believe that is in violation of international law. People are entitled to have humanitarian assistance."

The vessels are understood to have been boarded by Israeli Navy ships while in international waters, 80 miles off the coast of Gaza. They were later taken to the northern Israeli port of Ashdod.

Dr Lane's father Jim said he was proud of his son. Mr Lane said: "I am proud of my son, not only for going on this solidarity mission to Gaza, but also for refusing deportation. He is making a point that Israel should have no control over who enter Gaza. He has done nothing wrong and I support him. Furthermore, it is my belief that the United States should stop giving carte blanche to the Israeli state, for it is this support that gives Israel the confidence to act with such impunity."

Press Association

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