Israeli military stops Gaza convoy

IssueDecember 2011 / January 2012
News by David Polden

On 4 November, the latest attempt to break the siege of Gaza ended when Israeli defence forces (IDF) boarded two ships in international waters, before taking them to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

The two ships, Saoirse (“freedom”) from Ireland and the Tahrir (“liberation”) from Canada, were carrying 27 passengers (including Irish MEP Paul Murphy and an Egyptian reporter) and $30,000 worth of medicine and supplies.

Dr Fintan Lane, aboard Saoirse, said: “The boats were corralled to such an extent that the two boats collided… and were damaged”. Michael Coleman, aboard Tahrir, said: “We were assaulted and thrown around. I had my arm twisted hard up my back. One activist was tasered. We have been hand-cuffed, shackled and sleep-deprived.”

When the ships reached Ashdod, the crew were taken into custody, interrogated and repeatedly body-searched.

On 8 November, some of those detained came before a judge who told them they could be held in prison for two months without charge or trial unless they signed a statement that they had entered Israel “voluntarily” and “illegally”. They refused to sign, but were still released. All have returned home.