Aid ship Rachel Corrie still heading for Gaza
From Larry Johnson’s blog: Looking for Trouble.
The MV Rachel Corrie, a converted merchant ship bought by pro-Palestinian activists and named after the 23-year-old American peace activist from Olympia, Washington, who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003, set off Monday from Malta.
The organizers – the Free Gaza Movement – said their intent remains to break Israel’s blockade of the 1.5 million people in Gaza.
Rachel Corrie was killed while undertaking nonviolent direct action to prevent Israeli bulldozers from demolishing the home of a Palestinian family.
Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said the ship is Irish-owned.
“The government has formally requested the Israeli government to allow the Irish-owned ship … to be allowed to complete its journey unimpeded and discharge its humanitarian cargo in Gaza,” Cowen told parliament in Dublin.
Israel has said it is prepared to block the ship.
Organizers say that passengers on the Rachel Corrie include Northern Irish Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire and Denis Halliday, an Irish former senior UN diplomat, and several other Irish citizens. Corrigan-Maguire, is a Northern Irish peace activist who co-founded, with Betty Williams, the Community of Peace People, an organization that worked for a peaceful resolution to the fighting in Northern Ireland. The two women received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.
Israel’s Army Radio reported that the ship would reach Gazan waters by Wednesday, but activists say it might not attempt to reach Gaza until early next week.
The Rachel Corrie is carrying medical equipment, wheelchairs, school supplies and cement, a material Israel has banned in Hamas-ruled Gaza, organizers said.
Mark Daly, a member of Ireland’s upper house of parliament who had been due to join the convoy but was refused permission to leave Cyprus, told Reuters in Dublin that the ship had fallen behind the rest of the aid convoy that was attacked by Israel early Sunday morning because it was slower.
Passengers aboard it had heard about the Israeli attacks that killed at least 10 people but decided not to turn back.
Meanwhile, Adam Shapiro who is on the board of the Free Gaza Movement, said yesterday: “CNN is looping footage of mayhem on one of the ships, but is not giving the context that the Israelis had killed someone already at that point. The ship was in international waters, there was no plausible rationale to take it over by the Israelis. The ships were not going to Israel, they were going to Gaza, they had no plans to enter Israeli waters. All this could have been avoided if Israel had let the ships deliver their aid to Gaza.”
Richard Falk, a professor of international law emeritus at Princeton University and the Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territories for the United Nations Human Rights Council, said yesterday: “The Israeli naval and helicopter lethal attack on the Freedom Flotilla bringing needed humanitarian relief to the civilian population of Gaza is a shocking crime against humanity. Some of the facts are contested, but an Israeli military attack on the high seas is an act of aggression, and those on board the ships had a legal right to act in self-defense.”