Ship from last year's flotilla being boarded by the Israeli army

Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheal Martin, has accused Israel of "essentially kidnapping” seven Irish citizens who were aboard the Gaza bound aid flotilla.

Heavily armed Israeli commandos raided the flotilla in the early hours of yesterday morning while they were still in international waters.

Up to 16 humanitarian passengers were shot dead by the Israeli commandos, and another 50 people are reported injured.

The UN Security Council has formally requested that Israel immediately release the ships and civilians from custody.

Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the Security Council that Israel's actions were "tantamount to banditry and piracy. It is murder conducted by a state."

The seven Irish citizens detained include members of the Free Gaza Movement's Irish affiliate, The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Shane Dillon is being deported while Dr Fintan Lane and Fiachra O Luain were contesting their deportation orders and will be brought before a court within the next 72 hours.

An Australian tourist travelling on an Irish passport is also being detained and two naturalized Irish citizens that are originally from Libya are also being detained. An Irish-Polish activist is also being detained by Israel.

Eftaima Najjair, wife of the detained Irish passport holder, Al Mahdi Alharati, said she was shocked by Israel's actions.

“We have no information so I’m afraid that he might be injured. We thought there would be no risk in taking part in the flotilla,” said Najjair.

Minister Martin has criticized the Israeli authorities for denying the Irish detainees any access to the Irish ambassador.
Ireland has had a strained relationship with Israel since Israel assassins used Irish passports to murder a Hamas official in United Emirates, last year.

Martin condemned Israel's "unacceptable and disproportionate" use of force in the raid of the humanitarian flotilla that was carrying 10,000 tons of Gaza aid.
Martin requested the Israeli ambassador to Ireland ,Zion Evrony, attend a meeting at Iveagh House yesterday.

Martin demanded the unconditional release of all Irish citizens currently detained in Ashdod.

"These people did not enter Israel illegally. They were essentially kidnapped from international waters, taken into Israel, and asked to sign documents confirming that they entered illegally. That is unacceptable,” said Martin.

Martin called for Israel to exercise "absolute restraint" in its dealings with the Irish owned vessel MV Rachel Corrie, which is named after the murdered US human rights activist.

Evrony told the Irish media that he regretted the loss of life but said that the Israeli commandos felt threatened.

“[Israeli forces] felt their lives were in danger and they felt that they had to protect themselves. They responded and, as a result, tragically, a few were killed,”  he said.

Footage shows the passengers  aboard the flotilla defending themselves with sticks and bats.

Asked if the incident would strain relations between Israel and Ireland, Evonry said, “I hope not. The relationship between Israel and Ireland is strong, and will continue to be strong.”

Labour's Foreign Affairs spokesman Michael D Higgins called on the Government to challenge the Israeli's.

"The Minister for Foreign Affairs . . . must make it clear that any assault on the Rachel Corrie  would be regarded as a hostile act against Ireland and a clear breach of international law that could not be ignored by this country."