“Israel” Threatens Flotilla Journalists, Ireland Warns “Israel”
Israel" says foreign journalists accompanying the Gaza-bound flotilla, which is due to set sail this week, will be banned from entering occupied Palestine for 10 years.
"Israel's" government press office warned editors that the "Israel" military had been ordered to stop the maritime convoy reaching Gaza, and media representatives travelling with the flotilla would have their equipment impounded and face a 10-year travel ban.
The Foreign Press Association condemned the decision, saying journalists covering a legitimate news event should be allowed to do their jobs without threats and intimidation. The association issued a statement Sunday saying the move "sends a chilling message to the international media and raises serious questions about Israel's commitment to freedom of the press".
10 ships will participate in the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid and about 500 activists, including citizens from various nationalities. The flotilla is due to set sail from Greece tomorrow but the Greek authorities have refused permission for a number of the vessels.
Commenting on the threats, Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore urged "Israel" to avoid any repeat of last year's actions against the convoy, Irish media reported Sunday.
"Israel must exercise all possible restraint and avoid any use of military force if attempting to uphold their naval blockade," Gilmore said after meeting with "Israeli" Ambassador to Dublin Boaz Moda.
"In particular, I would expect that any interception of ships is conducted in a peaceful manner and does not endanger the safety of our citizens or other participants," he added, reiterating the country's position that the "Gaza blockade was unjust and counterproductive and that the violence that marked last year's flotilla venture was completely unacceptable and unjustified."
The FM's statements came after he was urged by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) to seek safe passage for the second flotilla, which includes the Irish boat MV Saoirse.
"It is our belief that the member states of the European Union, including Ireland, have failed in their responsibility towards the protected people of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and in particular towards the people of Gaza," said IPSC chair Freda Hughes in his letter to Gilmore.
Some 25 Irish participants, including former and current members of parliament and the European parliament, trade union leaders and former Irish rugby international player Trevor Hogan are among the passengers expected to set sail on the Saoirse.
They are being joined by ships from Greece, Spain, Italy, France, Canada, the United States, Germany/Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands, which will be carrying medical supplies, letters of support, and various equipment.
Mean while, "Israel" Radio reported on Monday that the Zionist Entity and Egypt have come to an understanding by which ships taking part in an upcoming flotilla to the Gaza Strip will be allowed to unload their cargo of humanitarian goods at the Egyptian port of el-Arish, from where it will be transferred on land to Gaza after being checked.