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Israeli on Gaza flotilla says saboteurs damaged boat

Dror Feiler tells Arabic radio station ‘dark forces’ trying to stop ships; Arab MK defends decision to join flotilla

Freedom Flotilla member Dror Feiler, center, speaks during a press conference on August 12, 2014, in Istanbul (AFP/BULENT KILIC)
Freedom Flotilla member Dror Feiler, center, speaks during a press conference on August 12, 2014, in Istanbul (AFP/BULENT KILIC)

An Israeli-born left-wing activist aboard the flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip claimed Thursday that anonymous individuals had sabotaged one of the boats trying to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Palestinian enclave.

Dror Feiler told a Nazareth-based radio station that “unknown hands” had tampered with one of the boats making their way to the Strip, damaging it.

“The anonymous [saboteurs] did work that can only be done by professionals,” he told Radio al-Shams.

Feiler said that if the boat were to have set sail without discovering the damage, it might have gotten stuck at sea.

“Someone came to sabotage the boat and damaged the propellers, just as they did in 2011,” he said, referring to a previous Gaza flotilla. “There are dark forces trying to stop us in all sorts of ways. It’s someone who knows what they’re doing.”

The flotilla, which set out on Thursday, is expected to reach Gaza in three days, making few stops along the route for fear that it will not be allowed to continue on the journey if it were to make landfall in a country with good relations with Israel, like Cyprus.

Feiler was one of at least three Israelis aboard the flotilla, including MK Basel Ghattas of the Joint (Arab) List.

Ghattas told Channel 2 Thursday that he had assured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before his departure that the ships bore no weapons, firearms or otherwise — a key issue in Israel’s naval blockade.

He dismissed criticism of the flotilla as a “foolish attempt” by right-wing politicians to impugn “not only Arab representation in the Knesset, but all Arabs as citizens of the State of Israel.”

Zohar Regev, another left-wing Israeli activist, told Channel 2 that she doesn’t think the Israeli government wants more pictures like those from the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, when Israeli forces boarded a Gaza-bound ship sparking a melee that left nine Turkish activists dead.

“If there will be some kind of violent confrontation it won’t come from our side,” she said.

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