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Friday 23 February 2018

Irish Gaza activists stranded in airport in Tel Aviv after flight is ‘delayed’ reporters

FOREIGN Affairs officials are to lodge a protest with the Israeli government after seven Irish activists detained on an aid convoy to Gaza missed a deportation flight home.

Seven of the 14 Irish human rights activists were detained by Israeli authorities as they tried to break the naval blockade on Gaza. Irish consular officials have met the seven at Ben Gurion Airport and a complaint is being made over the delay.

The seven were expected to arrive in Dublin this afternoon, with the final seven expected home tomorrow -- a week after their vessel the MV Saoirse was intercepted by Israeli military in international waters.

However, it has been reported that the group is now at Tel Aviv airport but their flight has departed.

The activists were part of the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign detained in international waters as they tried to break the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza.

The seven are former rugby star Trevor Hogan, ISTG national co-ordinator Fintan Lane, People Before Profit councillor Hugh Lewis, SIPTU activist Mags O'Brien, Sinn Fein councillor Patrick Fitzgerald, university lecturer Zoe Lawlor and crew member John Mallon.

The activists did not want to participate in a trial in the Israeli courts which has added to deportation delays. They have been charged with illegally entering Israel.

Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland, Pat Lewis, the father of Hugh Lewis, said he had received a call at 7.20am this morning from his son.

"He said that they were in a cell and were not given a reason why they weren't being allowed to go home. They weren't even being allowed to go to the toilet.

"That was all he was able to say."

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