The coordinator of the Irish ship Saoirse, bound for Gaza in an international flotilla, told Ynet Thursday Israel had sabotaged the ship so that it would sink in mid-sail, not in order to prevent it from sailing.
"This was a potentially murderous act," said Dr Fintan Lane, who also owns the vessel.
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"If we had not spotted the damage as a result of a short trip in the bay, we would have gone to sea with a dangerously damaged propeller shaft," he said.
"One of the most shocking aspects is the delayed nature of the sabotage. It wasn't designed to stop the ship from leaving its berth; instead, it was intended that the fatal damage to the ship would occur while she was at sea and this could have resulted in the deaths of several of those on board."
The sabotage claims against Israel Wednesday succeeded similar claims made by the operators of the Juliano vessel, a Greek flotilla ship which also requires repair.
Twenty activists that had intended to sail with the Saorise from Göcek port, in Turkey, will have to seek a new mode of transportation as the vessel cannot set off in its current state. Six have reportedly already done so.
Operators of the flotilla sent Ynet photos of the damaged propeller shaft, which they present as evidence of intent to damage the ship in a dangerous manner.
'Damage similar to that done to Juliano ship in Greece'
Lane says passengers noticed some trouble Monday night, and that divers who went down to investigate discovered the damage and alerted an expert team.
He explained that divers had damaged the shaft in order to cause it to bend, which would eventually have led to a breach in the hull while the ship was navigating the high seas.
The damage was very similar to that caused to the Juliano in Greece, Lane said, adding that the damage was most certainly intentional and a product of human intervention.
"Israel is the only party likely to have carried out this reckless action and it is important that the Irish government and the executive in Northern Ireland insist that those who ordered this act of international terrorism be brought to justice. This was carried out in a Turkish town and shows no respect for Turkish sovereignty and international law," said Lane.
He added that the damage would take weeks and around 15,000 euro to fix, effectively preventing the ship from taking part in the flotilla.
Lane, who was on board Challenger 1 in last year's flotilla, said: "The Freedom Flotilla is a non-violent act of practical and humanitarian solidarity with the people of Gaza, yet Israel continues to use threats and violence to delay its sailing. They attacked us in international waters last year; now they are attacking us in Turkish and Greek ports. There is no line that Israel won't cross."
Lane and his associates, who have already secured passage on one of the other flotilla vessels, plan on holding a press conference in Dublin Thursday in order to present their findings and publicly accuse Israel of sabotage. They will also ask the Irish government to respond, he says.
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