Ireland FM warns Israel against violent interception of Gaza flotilla 26Jun11 June 27, 2011

Haaretz -  26 June 2011

As the second “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” gets ready to sail this week, 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, who also holds the post of trade minister, 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.”

At the same time, Gilmore said that his words should not be construed as advice to anyone to join the flotilla. “I have made it clear that I cannot advise any Irish national to participate in a venture which potentially brings them into harm’s way through seeking to break a naval blockade,” Gilmore said.

The Foreign Minister’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.

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