Organizers of a flotilla seeking to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip said Thursday that another of their boats had been damaged in port, and accused Israel of sabotage.
It was the second boat reported damaged in recent days, setting back plans by the pro-Palestinian activists to sail this week.
Fintan Lane, coordinator of a boat that was to carry Irish activists, said the propeller shaft of the vessel had been damaged when it was at a marina in Gocek, on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. He said a gash in the shaft appeared to have been caused by cutting equipment or a small explosive charge.
“There’s no way this could have happened accidentally,” Lane said by telephone from Turkey. “I think Israel was behind it. No one else has an interest in sabotaging our boat.”
Lane said the vessel was “out of commission for the flotilla” and that most of its passengers would return to Ireland, while six would join another boat.
He said the damaged shaft had bent during a test run Monday, and could have penetrated the hull of the boat at sea, sinking the vessel.
“This was not an attempt to stop our boat leaving its berth. For that, they would have disabled the propeller,” Lane said. “This was delayed sabotage that would have sunk the evidence with us.”
On Monday, organizers said that another boat slated to carry Greek, Swedish and Norwegian activists had its propeller shaft cut while in port in Greece, but that it could be repaired in a few days.
An Israeli army spokeswoman had no comment on the reports.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, stopped short of denying the accusations of Israeli involvement. “There are those who routinely blame Israel for every calamity, and of course they’re not always right,” he said. The flotilla organizers, he added, “are clearly not an objective source of information.”
Hats off to the Israelis if indeed they are responsible… here’s hoping for more of the same before the flotilla gets under way.