Israel to deport two Irish activists


Two Irish people who were seized by Israeli forces aboard a boat carrying aid to Gaza are to be deported to Ireland tomorrow.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maireád Maguire (65) and Derek Graham (40), a former Defence Forces member, were detained with 21 passengers and crew aboard the Free Gaza Movement’s Spirit of Humanitylast week, accused of entering Israel illegally.

The activists argued they were in international waters 24 nautical miles off the Gaza coast when they were taken into custody and transported to Israel.

The vessel carrying medical supplies, toys, crayons and a symbolic bag of cement set sail from the Cypriot port of Larnaca last Monday, expecting to reach Gaza the following day. Importation into Gaza of cement, glass and iron for reconstruction is banned.

Ms Maguire was being held incommunicado in an Israeli prison yesterday, deprived since last week of thyroid and cholesterol medicines and a change of clothing. She was continuing with a fast begun on Friday in solidarity with the 1.5 million people of Gaza.

Ms Maguire and Mr Graham are due back in Dublin airport tomorrow evening.

Speaking from Cyprus, Mr Graham’s wife Jenny said: “Of course, I am very relieved to hear that my husband will be released unharmed. However, while Derek and the other 20 Free Gaza activists are to be freed, Gaza remains unfree, existing under the brutal Israeli siege which Derek, Mairead and the others set out to break in the first place. We must not forget this fact, and we in the Free Gaza Movement will not give up our fight to help the 1.5 million people of Gaza.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin last week called for the immediate release of Ms Maguire and Mr Graham.