Israel Also Sabotaged Irish Ship, Say Gaza Flotilla Organizers

Activists say Israel sabotaged second flotilla vessel, this time docked in Turkey’s territorial waters, after the propeller of a Greek-Swedish ship was found broken earlier this week.

Organizers of the Gaza flotilla said Thursday that Israel has sabotaged the Irish ship "Saoirse," in the second such sabotage of a flotilla ship this week.

Earlier this week, activists accused Israel of sabotaging the Greek-Swedish ship "Juliano" in Piraeus.

Karla Larson

According to an activist, the engine of the Irish vessel was damaged in such a way that would have caused the ship to sink in the middle of the ocean and cause fatalities. The ship was docked at in Turkey’s territorial waters when the tampering occurred.

The flotilla spokesman, Dror Feiler, told Army Radio that he has no proof that Israel was responsible for the damage, but that the state would do everything in its power to prevent the ships from heading to Gaza.

“I saw the damage and it is clear that it was done in a planned and professional way,” he said. “The Israeli government is the only one that could benefit from this.”

The flotilla organizers are expected to hold a press conference Thursday to reveal additional details of the incident.

On Monday, the propeller of the Greek-Swedish ship "Juliano" was found broken, and Gaza flotilla organizers said they believed it was deliberate sabotage by Israel. Due to the vandalism, flotilla participants have organized guard duty rosters for each ship that is due to sail for Gaza. The Juliano was towed for repairs to a shipyard at another port; as of Wednesday, the assessment was that it would require two more days of work.

Moreover, two Port Authority inspectors appeared at the Greek port of Piraeus on Monday and asked to conduct a surprise inspection of the Canadian ship "Tahrir", after it had already underwent a thorough inspection by the International Naval Surveys Bureau and was said to be ready to sail.

The flotilla's American ship has not yet been certified as fit to sail, following a complaint last week that it was unseaworthy. But a Canadian ship, which an anonymous complaint also labeled unfit to sail, has been reinspected and received clearance as seaworthy.

Israeli claims that flotilla passengers have stockpiled chemicals and flamethrowers on the ships for use against Israeli forces dispatched to intercept them are being portrayed by the organizers as propaganda warfare. The flotilla steering committee reiterated that every piece of personal luggage being brought on the ships will be inspected.

Speaking to Western media outlets, steering committee members repeatedly quoted the restrictions contained in the rules that every flotilla passenger signed, including a prohibition against initiating contact with soldiers or throwing objects (chemicals included) at them.

Some flotilla participants who are staying in neighborhoods near the ships have reported suspicious activity. For instance, some said they had been mugged on the street at several different locations and that their cell phones had been stolen. There have also been reports of the sudden appearance of "fishermen" near water polluted with gasoline and diesel fuel, fisherman who had neither bait nor buckets. Even without a background in intelligence, the delegates have concluded that the strange fisherman have more to do with the flotilla than with fish. The baitless anglers have already become the subject of jokes among flotilla participants.

The flotilla organizers said in the last few days that ten ships would sail to Gaza, although the number is expected to be lower, and are keeping the departure date secret.