Aid ship Rachel Corrie seized by Israel, passengers ‘unharmed’
The Israeli military seized the aid ship MV Rachel Corrie early this morning, preventing the delivering of over 1000 tons of medical and construction supplies to besieged Gaza.
The Free Gaza Movement said all the passengers “are believed to be unharmed.”
The Rachel Corrie carried 11 passengers and 9 crew from 5 different countries, mostly Ireland and Malaysia. The passengers included Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, Parit Member of the Malaysian Parliament Mohd Nizar Zakaria, and former U.N. Assistant Secretary General, Denis Halliday.
On Monday elite Israeli military commandos stormed six humanitarian aid ships taking part in the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ to Gaza, killing at least 9 civilian passengers and injuring dozens more while the ships were in international waters. The Rachel Corrie was part of the flotilla but had to stay behind in Malta for repairs.
Earlier, Halliday had said that everyone on board the Rachel Corrie was prepared to cooperate with the Israeli military if they boarded.
“When they tell they are about to board we will cooperate because it’s too dangerous not to do so, particularly as you say it may be at night which is the usual tactic. We’re not fools, we’re not about to throw away our lives,” Halliday told ABC News on Thursday.
Israeli military confirmed on Saturday noon, Gaza time, that the Rachel Corrie had been boarded without incident. An Israeli Defense Forces spokesman said the ship would be directed to dock at Israel’s southern port of Ashdod.
The Rachel Corrie is 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 ship carrying medical equipment, wheelchairs, school supplies and cement, a material Israel has banned in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
According to organizers of the aid effort, the Freedom Flotilla was an effort by a coalition of human rights and humanitarian organizations to nonviolently break through Israel’s illegal blockade, and deliver much needed humanitarian and developmental aid to the Palestinians of Gaza. The United Nations and activists who have recently visited Gaza, say the Israeli blockade, in place since 2007, denies residents of Gaza the basic needs of life: a variety of foods, building materials, electricity, fuel, medicines and school supplies.