Martin: Irish citizens 'kidnapped' in international waters

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has accused Israel of kidnapping Irish citizens in international waters.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has accused Israel of kidnapping Irish citizens in international waters.

Micheál Martin is furious after Israel announced it would deport all foreign nationals seized from a convoy of ships carrying aid to Gaza.

Israel launched an attack on the flotilla overnight, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens more.

Seven Irish passport holders have been taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod from where it is planned to deport them. One has already signed papers agreeing to the move.

But Minister Martin said he has told the Israeli Ambassador Dr Zion Evrony that the Government wants these Irish citizens released immediately.

"The Israeli government requires people to sign papers so that they can be deported," Minister Martin said. "But of course these people did not enter Israel illegally.

"They were essentially kidnapped from international waters, taken into Israel.. And now they are being asked to sign a document almost confirming that they entered illegally.

"And we think that is unacceptable.

"I have said this to the Ambassador - it makes no sense. These people should be released unconditionally."

The Israeli Ambassador defended his country's actions.

Dr Evrony said he is neither ashamed nor embarrassed by what happened, but he stated that he would convey the views of the Irish Government to his country's government.

He made the remarks after meeting Minister Martin at Iveagh house this evening.

Dr Evrony said he did not belive relations between Ireland and Israel had been damaged.

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