Israel is to deport 14 Irish citizens after the latest attempt to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.
The 14, including former Irish rugby international Trevor Hogan and European Parliament member Paul Murphy, are to be deported after being held by Israeli military forces.
They were aboard the Irish registered MV Saoirse, one of two ships intercepted by the Israeli navy as it attempted to break the naval blockade of Gaza.
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign affairs Eamon Gilmore has instructed embassy staff in Tel Aviv to assist the Irish involved.
The latest Freedom Wave humanitarian mission to deliver medical supplies to Gaza included 27 volunteers from seven different countries.
The two ships were intercepted by the Israeli navy and towed to the Port of Ashdod where those aboard were detained overnight.
Former Fianna Fail parliamentarian Chris Andrews and artist Felim Egan are also amongst the Irish to be deported
Former rugby international Hogan sent a text message to the Irish Ship For Gaza campaign calling on the Irish Government to intervene.
In response, the Labor Party leader Gilmore, Minister for Foreign Affairs and deputy Prime Minister, said his government’s main concern was for the safety and welfare of those detained.
“My initial reaction is one of relief that there has been no violence and that all the Irish nationals aboard the MV Saoirse are safe and well following this ordeal,” said Minister Gilmore.
“My views and those of the Government on the Gaza blockade are well known. We do not agree with it, we regard it as contrary to international humanitarian law in its impact on the civilian population of Gaza, and we have repeatedly urged Israel to end a policy which is unjust, counter-productive and amounts to collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians.”