IRISH MEDIA RELEASE: Contact lost with Freedom Waves to Gaza

Urgent Press Release, via Irish Ship to Gaza, Friday 4 November 2011, 1:30 pm

Contact lost with Freedom Waves to Gaza

Irish and Canadian ships sailing with Freedom Waves to Gaza are likely being illegally boarded and commandeered right now by the Israeli military in international waters – or they are about to be. Freedom Waves to Gaza organisers have been unable to make contact with the MV Saoirse since it was approached by Israeli warships at 10:58 am (Irish time).

At 11:12 am (Irish time) Israeli forces made radio contact with the Tahrir and asked them to state their final destination. Canadian boat organiser, Ehab Lotayef, responded: “The conscience of humanity.” When Israeli forces repeated the question, he replied: “The betterment of humankind.”

“We have lost contact with both the Saoirse and Tahrir. There seems to be a communications blackout,” said Laurence Davis, a coordinator of the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign. “Up to now we had been in regular, scheduled telephone contact with the Saoirse. Given Israel’s stated intent to board the ships, it may be that this has already happened.”

“If Israel has yet again illegally boarded peaceful boats sailing to Gaza through international waters, then it means that it believes it can still act with impunity despite worldwide condemnation of its attack on the Flotilla of 2010. We are deeply concerned for all passengers and crew aboard the two boats, given the Israeli military’s disregard for human life when it boarded the Mavi Marmara in 2010 and shot dead nine activists,” commented Claudia Saba, a spokesperson for Irish Ship to Gaza.

“We are calling on people to take to the streets in emergency solidarity rallies. We also call on the Irish government to fulfil its obligations by formally protesting Israel’s illegal pirating on an Irish ship in international waters, and calling for the safety and immediate release of the delegates and property.”

Organiser Laurence Davis added: “The main aim of the Freedom Waves to Gaza initiative is to show solidarity with the ordinary people of Gaza who have lost their basic freedoms as a result of a blockade imposed by the military forces of Israel.

“Our mission is a peaceful humanitarian one intended to affirm the right of the Palestinian people to unimpeded access to international waters and air space, in conformity with international law and all United Nations resolutions.

We are part of a broad-based international movement of concerned citizens seeking to peacefully uphold that right in the face of continuing inaction by our governments. We will continue to send boats to Gaza until such time as this illegal and immoral blockade comes to an end.”

The Freedom Waves to Gaza initiative emerged from the Freedom Flotilla initiatives. It is a non-violent, civil society movement the primary aim of which is to end the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza. Bios of delegates on board the Saoirse are available here: http://irishshiptogaza.org/?page_id=494.

An emergency protest has been planned in Dublin today, Friday, at 6 pm. The meeting point is the Spire on O’Connell Street.

ENDS

For more information contact:

Laurence Davis 086 360 5053

Claudia Saba at 086 393 8821

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