Two leading Irish human rights activists were prevented for a second time today from flying home from Israel, in the latest strange twist to the protracted homecoming saga of Ireland’s #FreedomWaves campaigners.They were among the 14 Irish passengers of the MV Saoirse, hijacked in international waters last Friday on a humanitarian mission to Gaza.
The seven people who had earlier been stopped from flying out on a morning British Airways flight were returned to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport this afternoon to take a Lufthansa flight. However, only five of them departed, with two — Irish Ship to Gaza co-ordinator Fintan Lane and Limerick university lecturer Zoe Lawlor — being returned to Israeli custody.
The Irish Ship to Gaza campaign understands that these developments caught Irish consular officials by surprise.
“We had been informed by the Irish consular mission that seven Irish citizens, held in Israel since last Friday, were placed on a Lufthansa flight home bound,” spokesperson Claudia Saba said this afternoon. “However, a few minutes later we got a call saying that the bus that had gone out to the plane with seven passengers then returned with two of them still on it.”
Campaigners were told by Irish officials that Lane and Lawlor had boarded the flight, but were then removed and “returned to their holding cells” at the airport.
The other five human-rights activists did leave Tel Aviv and are due to arrive in Dublin airport at 23.40 tonight, on a connecting Lufthansa flight. A further seven were due to be released tomorrow, but today’s bizarre and cruel developments put all such predictions in doubt.
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