[News] Israel hijacks MV Rachel Corrie

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sat Jun 5 11:22:23 EDT 2010

Saturday, June 05, 2010
15:41 Mecca time, 12:41 GMT

Israeli troops board Gaza aid ship

Israeli soldiers have boarded a Gaza-bound aid 
ship and forced it to head towards the Israeli port of Ashdod instead.

The Israeli military in a statement said troops 
boarded MV Rachel Corrie on Saturday after 
activists aboard the ship ignored warnings to divert to Ashdod.

"There was no violence or injuries amongst the 
soldiers or crew...and no shots were fired," the 
statement added, saying the ship was now on its way to Ashdod.

Activists on board the Malaysia-funded Irish ship 
were attempting to break the siege of Gaza 
imposed by Israel, five days after Israeli troops 
violently intercepted a flotilla of aid ships 
carrying humanitarian aid for the territory, killing nine activists.

Israeli naval vessels had been trailing the ship 
for several hours before storming it. Rachel 
Corrie's radar had also been jammed, cutting off all radio communication.

Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for the Israeli 
government, told Al Jazeera that the ship was 
boarded by soldiers at the edge of the maritime 
zone of Gaza in agreement with those on board.

"The people on board will be taken care off in 
accordance with Israeli law, as they have 
approached Israel illegally, so they will be 
asked to leave voluntarily," she said, adding the 
cargo would be off-loaded at Ashdod and then transferred to Gaza.

But Renee Jaouadi, a spokeswoman for the Free 
Gaza Movement that sent the aid ship, told Al 
Jazeera that they had made it very clear that 
they would not comply with Israel, "because their 
demands are against international humanitarian concerns".

"We did not want to take our cargo anywhere near 
Israel, we wanted to go directly to the port of Gaza," she said.

"If this boat has been boarded, it has been boarded illegally yet again."

Mukhriz Mahathir, head of the Perdana Global 
Peace Organisation, a Malaysian non-governmental 
organisation that sponsored the Rachel Corrie, 
said people would be willing to contribute to further aid ships.

"These actions have finally succeded in raising lots of awareness," he said.

"But for the moment, we are upset that these aid 
goods have not reached their destination."

Israeli warning

Pro-Palestinian activists had earlier said they 
were determined to press ahead towards the Gaza 
coast, despite the Israeli warnings.

"We are not afraid and we are all advocating 
 and we will just sit here and go if 
they insist on commandeering our boat and forcing 
us into Ashdod," Mairead Maguire, an activist and 
Nobel Peace laureate aboard Rachel Corrie, said 
before radio contact with the ship was lost.

The Israeli military had warned that troops would 
consider storming the ship, if it continued its journey towards Gaza.

In a statement, the Israel navy warned the ship 
that it was "approaching an area of hostilities 
which is under a naval blockade. The Gaza area, 
coastal region and Gaza Harbour are closed to all maritime traffic."

Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military 
spokeswoman, told Al Jazeera that the military 
had a government directive to make sure the ship does not reach Gaza.

Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston, reporting from 
Gaza, said the ship had hundreds of tonnes of 
aid, including medical supplies, wheelchairs, 
cement, building materials and even note-pads for children.

Determined activists

Dennis Halliday, the former UN assistant 
secretary-general who is also on board the ship, 
said on Friday that they expected Israeli military to intercept them.

"The current arrangements are unsustainable and 
must be changed. For now, we call on all parties 
to join us in encouraging responsible decisions 
by all sides to avoid any unnecessary confrontations"

Mike Hammer, White House national security council spokesman

"The cargo was checked three times - by trade 
unions in Ireland, by a member of the Irish 
senate, as well as Irish customs at the port," Halliday said.

"The cargo is sealed and we can't even access it 
ourselves," he said, explaining why they refused to take the ship to Ashdod.

The ship, carrying 11 activists and eight crew 
members, is named after an 
womanwho was killed by an Israeli military 
bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003, while trying 
to protest a house demolition.

Siege 'unsustainable'

Meanwhile in Washington the US said Israel's 
blockade on Gaza was unsustainable.

"We are working urgently with Israel, the 
Palestinian Authority, and other international 
partners to develop new procedures for delivering 
more goods and assistance to Gaza," Mike Hammer, 
a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said.

"The current arrangements are unsustainable and 
must be changed. For now, we call on all parties 
to join us in encouraging responsible decisions 
by all sides to avoid any unnecessary 
confrontations," Hammer said in a statement.

"It remains a US priority to provide assistance 
to the people of Gaza," Hammer said.

"In the interest of the safety of all involved, 
and the safe transmission of assistance to the 
people of Gaza, we strongly encourage those on 
board the Rachel Corrie and other vessels to sail 
to Ashdod to deliver their materials to Gaza," 
Hammer said, referring to the Israeli port.
  Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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