ATHENS - An Irish ship dropped out of the pro-Palestinian flotilla planning to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza yesterday, contending sabotage, and an American ship declared it may set sail from a Greek port for Gaza without permission, activists said.
Up to 400 international activists had been due to sail this week to Gaza aboard 10 ships leaving from Greece to protest the naval blockade that Israel imposed on the Palestinian territory after Hamas militants overran it in 2007.
An Israeli raid on a similar flotilla last year killed nine activists on a Turkish ship, with each side blaming the other for the violence.
The Irish ship Saoirse had to abandon plans to set sail because of what it called Israeli sabotage.
Activist Huwaida Arraf told Israel’s Army Radio that the ship’s engine was damaged while in port and could have lead to deaths on board.
“When the engine was started, it completely bent,’’ Arraf said. “While out at sea, if this would have happened, if it would have bent in this way, the boat would have started taking on water, and it could have led to fatalities.’’
The alleged sabotage occurred at the Turkish coastal town of Gocek, organizers said.
Earlier this week, activists said Israeli agents damaged the propeller of a Swedish ship in the Greek port.
Israel has declined to respond to requests for comment on the allegations.