50 set to join Gaza aid flotilla
Up to 50 Irish campaigners are expected to join a coalition of pro-Palestinian supporters on a second aid flotilla to Gaza, it has been revealed.
Seven groups have come together to bring public figures, members of the media and activists on cargo ships and passenger boats in late autumn.
Campaigners say the sea mission is a second attempt to end the four year-long Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Dr Fintan Lane, a campaigner who travelled on the first flotilla in May, said organisers were trying to mobilise the goodwill throughout Ireland towards the people of Gaza.
"It is important that we show our solidarity with the people there. It is not enough to care - we must act," he said. "We believe that Irish people will contribute generously towards this effort to break the siege.
"The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is appalling and entirely man-made. Israel could end this tomorrow by lifting its illegal siege."
The group, known as the Irish Ship to Gaza Campaign, is planning to join the "Second Freedom Flotilla" being overseen by the Free Gaza Movement, IHH (Turkey) and the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza.
Dr Lane, Ireland national coordinator of the campaign, was on an aid boat in the first flotilla and detained by Israeli commandos who boarded and seized vessels at sea in May. The military operation left nine activists dead and hundreds more deported from Israel.
Organisers said between 10 and 15 boats are being lined up for the repeat trip with ships from Britain, the United States, Canada and continental Europe expected take part. The second flotilla is being planned for late October, early November with fundraising to take place over the next few months.
The Israeli Government has imposed a blockade on Gaza since 2006 amid claims that arms shipments were being brought into the port.