Derry men’s Gaza bound ship‘sabotaged’

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The ship carrying two Derry men who were attempting to travel to Gaza with aid supplies was sabotaged by Israeli agents, the men have claimed.

Sinn Féin councillor Gerry MacLochlainn and Charlie McMenamin were among 20 Irish people on board the MV Saoirse ship which was part of the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ of ships attempting to break the Israeli blockade and get to Gaza.

The ship, which was in the Mediterranean Sea, was due to set sail for Gaza yesterday before the damage was discovered.

During an inspection, a chuck was found to be missing from the ship’s propeller shaft and the crew have claimed the damage could not have been caused accidentally. The cost to repair the damage has been estimated at 15,000 euro.

The damage was discovered by the ship’s engineer, Pat Fitzgerald from Waterford.

Derry man Charlie McMenamin said the damage could have caused the ship to sink. “Luckily due to Pat Fitzgerald’s vigilance it was discovered before we set sail.

“If we had sailed there may have been fatalities,” he said.

Mr McMenamin also said there are reports that plastic explosives may have been used to damage the ship.

Mr McMenamin and Colr MacLochlainn tried to get onto one of the other ships in the flotilla in order to continue to Gaza but were unable to get on board. They planned to return to Ireland last night.

The Tánaiste, Eamonn Gilmore, has raised concerns over the reports of sabotage.

The Israeli embassy in Dublin said that it was not connected to the incident and had no information relating to it.

Irish MEP Paul Murphy said; “The revelation that terrorist-style sabotage of the MV Saoirse caused serious damage to the ship and threatened the loss of life is extremely serious. The evidence pointing towards the Israeli state being guilty is overwhelming. It cannot be a coincidence that two of the boats destined to sail to Gaza have now been sabotaged in the same way, with their propeller shafts damaged.”