Martin in new call for restraint from Israelis

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has once again demanded Israeli Authorities to show restraint in dealing with the crew of an Irish Aid vessel on its way to Gaza.

Mr Martin says he has tabled an agreement whereby the cargo from the Rachel Corrie would be unloaded at the Israeli port of Ashdod under the supervision of Israeli, UN and Irish authorities, and then transported on to Gaza.

However, the crew have refused this, and Mr Martin says he respects their decision.

Mr Martin said the Irish Government has made clear it believes the Rachel Corrie should be allowed to proceed to Gaza and to unload its humanitarian cargo.

“The Government continues to call on Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza,” he added.

“Pending that, Israel should immediately facilitate the import into Gaza of all goods, other than weapons.”

Meanwhile, two more Irish activists, held in an Israeli detention centre this week, have been recounting their ordeals.

As he landed in Dublin, activist Dr Fintan Lane said a commando pointed a gun at his face as they took over their ship, Challenger 1.

“I believe that soldier would have shot me if I hadn’t have moved those few inches,” he said.

“It’s clear to me they were told to take these boats by any means necessary.”

Campaigner Fiachra O' Luain – who claims his passport was stolen by Israeli officials – said he feared he was going to die when he was attacked by up to 20 men at Ben Gurion airport.

“I’d seen what they’d done to other people, there was no reason to believe they wouldn’t do the same to me,” he said.

“After I was beaten up they put me in handcuffs, I was brought away from the group and about eight of them put their guns out and they all threatened to kill me.

“I asked to speak to a Rabbi and they told me I would see one at my funeral and they would see one when they killed me.”

The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, said the tragic loss of life during Israel’s military take-over in internationals was reprehensible.

However Dr Lane said abuse suffered by campaigners was just a small version of what happens to people in Gaza and the West Bank every day.

He said he wished he could be on the Rachel Corrie as it continued its mission.

“I was at the funerals in Istanbul yesterday of the Turkish victims and the sense of determination to continue the struggle and ensure that Gaza isn’t forgotten and not left alone,” he added.

“I’d go back there tomorrow.”

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