Soutenez les détenus des bateaux Tahrir et MV Saoirse
Irish Ship to Gaza
Press release, Tuesday 8 November 2011, 11.45pm
FAMILY MEMBERS OF IRISH DETAINEES DISTRESSED ABOUT THEIR CONTINUED
IMPRISONMENT AMID THREATS BY ISRAELI JUDGE OF POSSIBLE TWO-MONTH
ISRAEL CONTINUES TO DETAIN ALL IRISH PASSENGERS WITH NO RELEASE DATES
American journalist Jihan Hafiz was on the Canadian boat Tahrir, and
was among those detained by Israel despite her press credentials. She reported
earlier today about her experience during the Israeli takeover of the Irish and
“There were three warships [...] four Zodiacs, four water cannon
boats, as well as four regular gunboats. All of the commandos on all of these
boats were heavily armed. It looked like they were taking on an army of a
She added: “Two water cannons started to pour lots of water into the
Irish boat, which flooded it, blew their sockets, and cut off all the
electricity. And so, at that point, the Irish delegates I spoke to said they
told the Israeli army, ‘We’re taking on water. We’re sinking. We’re going to go
down at sea if you continue with the water.’"
Jihan Hafiz goes on to describe the
violent takeover during which guns were pointed at the heads of the boats’ passengers, how they
were roughed up, mistreated, strip-searched, and filmed naked. She also tells of
how the journalists’ equipment was confiscated, in a bid to silence any
reporting that might contradict the sanitized Israeli account of what happened
during the hijacking of the Tahrir and the MV Saoirse.
Meanwhile, despite Department of Foreign Affairs assurances that the
detained Irish activists of the MV Saoirse would likely be released by Tuesday
8November, there has been no further news of their deportation
and return to Ireland. Naturally, the family members of the Irish passengers are
extremely anxious about their continued illegal incarceration. They are
particularly concerned about reports that the judge dealing with the case of the
detainees has threatened to keep them incarcerated for two months.
The lawyer dealing with the case met with Canadian detainees Ehab
Lotayef and David Heap on Monday. They informed the lawyer that an Israeli judge
threatened to keep all detainees who do not sign deportation papers incarcerated
for two months. The Irish activists have
refused to sign these papers because they state that the activists came to
Israel voluntarily and entered the country illegally. This is not the case, as
Israeli naval ships violently seized the Saoirse and Tahrir, and forcibly
transported them and all on board to Ashdod.
Furthermore, the lawyer reported that the Irish he spoke with felt
isolated and alone due to their lack of contact with the outside world. An Irish
consular official reports that he attempted to bring newspapers and phone cards
for the prisoners, but these were not allowed in.
Lane’s father, Jim Lane, said:
and I are deeply concerned for Fintan’s welfare. We are disappointed by the lack
of information we are receiving from the Department of Foreign Affairs. On
Monday we were told by the Department representative that Irish consular staff
would be meeting all the detained prisoners on that day, but later we were told
that they were not given access to the male prisoners. Furthermore, I was made
to understand that the 72 hour detention period would be up at 2am on Tuesday
morning, and we awaited further information from the Department. However, this
afternoon we got a call from the DFA to be told that they had no further news.
The family is concerned about the silence that has been brought into the affair.
It seems deliberate and we would like information immediately. The few
statements we have had have come from Israeli sources, which we find to be
suspect based on the account our son was able to communicate in the very brief
phone call he was permitted to make.”
support our son’s participation in the Freedom Waves initiative because the
inhumane blockade of Gaza must come to an end,” he added.
Gay Lawlor, Zoe Lawlor's brother,
"As a family we are extremely
worried about Zoe and the other passengers of the MV Saoirse. Given the passing
of the 72 hour detention period and still no confirmation of their release times
we think it is shocking that our government, and in particular the Tanaiste, Mr.
Eamon Gilmore, are not acting in the best interests of our citizens."
Hogan, Irish rugby star Trevor Hogan's brother, said:
brother refused to sign a deportation order, which stated he had entered Israel
illegally, since he was effectively kidnapped by the IDF and brought to Israel
against his will.”
hour period of detention pending deportation elapsed at approximately 3am on
Tuesday morning, yet the latest information from an Irish consular official who
visited them on Tuesday afternoon is that there is still no confirmation of when
they will be deported. So they are, effectively, imprisoned
on Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore to intervene and secure the
immediate release of my brother, Trevor, and all the other Irish citizens of the
The family members quoted are
available for interview - contact details as follows: