[QODLink]
Middle East
'Second sabotage' of Gaza-bound flotilla
Activists on Irish ship in Turkey bound for Gaza Strip claim Israel behind sabotage of vessel's propeller.
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2011 18:10
Ten ships flagged under at least seven different countries comprise the 'Freedom Flotilla II'  [Reuters]

Activists on board an Irish ship that was set to participate in a planned flotilla to Gaza have said their propeller was sabotaged and could have caused the ship to sink if it had remained undiscovered.

Fintan Lane, a co-ordinator on board the Saoirse, said in a video posted on the ship's blog that he believed Israel was behind the damage, which he labelled an act of "terrorism".

The damage means the Saoirse will not be able to join the flotilla, the blog said.

"If this boat would've gone to sea, it's almost certain we would've lost lives, this boat would've sank," Lane said.

"It's an absolute outrage that Israel talks about the flotilla as a provocation when they're willing to engage in this type of international terrorism."

The Saoirse has been docked in Gocek, a town on Turkey's southern coast, as it waits to join nine other ships in what has been called the "Freedom Flotilla II," the second effort in as many years to sail medicine, food, supplies and letters through Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The first flotilla ended in disaster in May 2010, when Israeli commandos launched a predawn raid on the Mavi Marmara, a converted cruise ship, and killed nine passengers.

The Saoirse's crew had taken the ship on a test run and refuelling trip on Monday when the engineer noticed that something was wrong, the blog said.

When the crew returned to Gocek, they discovered that the propeller shaft had been cut and "dangerously bent". News of the alleged sabotage only emerged on Thursday.

Though the Saoirse will not be able to join the flotilla, the Irish activists on board are attempting to find space on other ships, the blog said.

Similar 'sabotage'

The damage to the propeller seemed to take place around the same time as a similar incident in the Greek port of Piraeus.

There, Swedish activists on board the Juliano said on Tuesday that "hostile divers" had destroyed the propeller house and cut the propeller shaft.

Flotilla organisers said the Juliano, unlike the Saoirse, would be ready to sail in one or two days after being repaired.

"We will not be frightened by Israel, and we are going to continue. Our friends from all around the world are with us, and we are all going to Gaza," organiser Dror Feiler told Al Jazeera.

Israel has waged a public information campaign aimed at dissuading journalists and activists from participating in the flotilla but has denied sabotaging the ships.    

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
Western fighters have streamed into the Middle East to help 'liberate' Arab countries such as Syria and Libya.
The Pakistani government is proposing reform of the nation's madrassas, which are accused of fostering terrorism.
Weaving and handicrafts are being re-taught to a younger generation of Iraqi Kurds, but not without challenges.
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Featured
After years of rapid growth, Argentina is bracing for another economic crisis as inflation eats up purchasing power.
Deaths of 13 Sherpas in Nepal has shone a light on dangerous working conditions in the Everest-climbing industry.
Al Jazeera investigation uncovers allegations of beatings and rape in Kenya's ongoing anti-terrorism operation.
Incumbent Joyce Banda has a narrow lead, but anything is possible in Malawi's May 20 elections.
Western fighters have streamed into the Middle East to help 'liberate' Arab countries such as Syria and Libya.
join our mailing list