ISRAELI intelligence agents photographed members of the Rachel Corrie aid mission before the ship left dock in Dundalk, the first mate of the vessel has claimed
In an interview with the Sunday Tribune, Derek Graham maintained that during their time in Israeli custody they saw photographs of several members of the group clearly taken in Ireland.
“They had people in Dundalk taking pictures. I would say it is standard. They would be either Mossad or IDF intelligence,” he said.
“There was a picture of Jenny [his wife] and when she saw it she knew it was taken in Dundalk because of the background. That is where we bought the ship and got it ready and got it loaded.”
The claims are significant in light of the recent controversy surrounding a suspected Mossad operation in Dubai in which Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was assassinated.
Those involved in the murder used fake passports, some of which had authentic Irish serial numbers.
“It wasn’t startling because we had an idea that we were being watched,” said Graham.
“I have done this [humanitarian aid missions] for three years and I had them outside my house in Cyprus and following us to the shops.
“I don’t mind the ones that you can see – they are there for intimidation or just to let you know [you are being watched]. But it’s the ones you can’t see that I don’t like.”
Graham believes the Israeli authorities had carried out considerable research on the party before they left for Gaza.
Aside from photographing members of the aid mission, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) was also aware of the original name of the MV Rachel Corrie and refused to address it by its new one.
“They had their research done to know it was called the MV Linda before we renamed it,” he said.
Nobody in the Israeli embassy could be reached for comment yesterday.
Labour’s spokesman on foreign affairs, Michael D Higgins said that such actions could be seen as a potential diplomatic incident.
“If it was true, and taken in the context of all the other actions that have taken place [involving clandestine Israeli operations], it has to be part of the judgement of Micheál Martin in terms of what is done on the passport issue,” he said.
“It would be of the same category of action and impropriety as the use of Irish passports [by Israeli agents]. These are not the actions of countries with friendly diplomatic relations.”
By Jason O’Brien
Tuesday June 08 2010
THE captain of the Rachel Corrie aid ship told yesterday how — despite reassuring his crew — he feared for his life as heavily armed Israeli forces boarded the vessel.
The other Irish aid workers on the ship — who were deported from Israel yesterday — said Derek Graham‘s calm authority and regular contact with the Israeli navy prior to the seizure on Saturday ensured that they did not fear being killed.
But Mr Graham, who was on board along with his wife Jenny, admitted yesterday he thought his own life was at risk as he was ordered to remain alone on the bridge after he had gathered all the crew and aid workers together in another area.
“So I’m standing there on the bridge by myself, with no protection,” said Mr Graham, who has entered Gaza on five of his seven attempts.
“At that stage, you start to get worried about what the navy might be thinking — ‘Take him out and everyone else will be subdued’?”
Each of the 35 or so Israelis who boarded the ship was carrying three weapons. “I was the head person aboard that ship,” Mr Graham said. “So if they’re taking down anybody, they’re taking down the head person.
“That is what appears to have happened on the Marmara last week — the captain was executed.”
On Saturday, however, Mr Graham was left kneeling with his hands tied behind his back for half an hour, before being taken to a detention centre with the rest of the staff and crew.
All five said they intended to try to get into Gaza again in the future.
“I expected to be scared but when you’re faced with it, the anger, the frustration, the outrage makes you courageous and the arrogance of these characters threatening Irish citizens on the high seas,”
Mr Halliday said. “This is a hijack and we were kidnapped. It’s bizarre.”
The five arrived back in Dublin via Frankfurt at 11.20am yesterday, after waiving their right to appeal the order of deportation. They had been held in a deportation centre in the port of Ashdod for two days.
Mr Graham confirmed that the ship remains under Israeli control in Ashdod.
“I will be organising getting my ship back because it was taken in international waters, not in Israeli waters,” he said.
Ms Maguire accused the Israeli government of committing “slow genocide” against the Palestinian people.
“Gaza has been cut off from the world for over three years. The people of Gaza don’t have enough basic things for their needs,” she said.
“It’s Israeli policies that are causing this – there is a slow genocide of the Palestinian people.”
“Regarding yesterday’s ship and five of the six ships in the previous flotilla, this process ended without casualties,” Mr Netanyahu said.
“Only on one ship, on which dozens of thugs from an extremist, terrorism-supporting organisation had prepared in advance, armed with axes, knives and other ‘cold’ weapons, were our soldiers compelled to defend themselves against a tangible danger to their lives.”
- Jason O’Brien