For Update see below.
Two ships are currently in international waters on their way from Fethiye in Turkey to try and deliver medical aid to Gaza. The Palestine Chronicle reports that, on the Freedom Waves flotilla, there are twenty-seven activists from nine countries, including the US, Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and Australia alongside Palestinians from Bethlehem and Haifa.
One of the two ships in the flotilla is the MV Saoirse, the Irish boat which was sabotaged en route to join an aid flotilla earlier this year. There was no pre-publicity for the Freedom Waves flotilla until a series of press launches today, including one in Dublin.
The MV Saoirse crew and passengers are: John Hearne, a Sinn Féin member of Waterford City Council and former President of the SIPTU Construction Branch; Pat Fitzgerald, a Sinn Féin member of Waterford County Council; Billy Smith from Waterford (also a member of Sinn Féin); John Mallon of the Belfast Friends of Palestine; the writer and historian Fintan Lane, national coordinator of Irish Ship to Gaza and a member of the Free Gaza Movement; Chris Andrews, a former Fianna Fail TD for Dublin South; Paul Murphy, Socialist Party and United Left Alliance MEP for Dublin; Hugh Lewis, a People Before Profit councillor on Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council and member of the Irish Anti-War Movement; artist Felim Egan, a member of Aosdana; Mags O’Brien is a trade union official and member of the Labour Party; Gerard Barron from New Ross in Country Wexford, a member of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Zoe Lawlor from University of Limerick, a member of the national committee of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Philip McCullough, a journalist with the Belfast Media Group and member of the Glencree Peace and Reconciliation Organisation; and, Trevor Hogan who played rugby for Munster, Leinster and Ireland.
You can follow the progress of the Freedom Waves flotilla here. Based on their speed to date, arrival off the Gaza shore is not likely for another couple of days yet. The flotilla intends to land $30,000 worth of medical supplies to the 1.6m Gazans who live in the Strip and highlight the ongoing problems with the Israeli blockade.
The #Freedomwaves ships were boarded by the Israeli navy in the last hour (see RTE report here or click that Freedomwaves link for the latest tweets). According to the last tagged location the ships were in international waters shortly before they were boarded raising questions over the legality of the Israeli’s actions.
Democracy Now have some footage from last night but there doesn’t appear to be any film of the boarding available yet.