World, June 3, (Pal Telegraph – Agencies) An Irish activist seized by Israeli authorities in a commando operation on an aid flotilla has accused armed forces of carrying out an act of piracy.
Dublin-based Shane Dillon demanded the Israeli government lift its controversial blockade and allow the Irish ship MV Rachel Corrie to deliver aid to Gaza.
Describing the dramatic moments the Challenger 1 came under attack, he said the ship was surrounded by blacked-out vessels and helicopters before armed forces launched an assault at close range with stun guns and high-powered paintball pellets.
“I wouldn’t call them soldiers, they are terrorists,” said the emotional 36-year-old. “They attacked us in international waters. That was a pure act of piracy in international waters on a peace fleet.”
Mr Dillon touched down in Dublin Airport late on Tuesday night still in the green T-shirt and torn combats he wore when captured on Monday morning. He angrily denied accusations activists had weapons on board the ships.
“The weapons the Israelis displayed were cooking knives, a hammer. This was a big merchant ship, of course it’s going to have a hammer, of course it’s going to have galley knives,” he said.
He called on the Irish government to refer the incident with the Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in Kuala Lumpur and demand the Rachel Corrie is granted entry to Gaza. The defiant seafarer also challenged the Israeli government.
“Cop on, grow up, it’s about time you let people be treated well and treated properly and stop this stupid siege and blockade on a nation of people,” he said.
The crewman – who has served as chief officer on Irish and British merchant ships – maintained the fleet had expected to be let though the blockade.
“We didn’t expect it to be so severe and a severe loss of life. That was just ridiculous, it’s very sad,” he continued. “My heart goes out to the brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers and the families of those who died.”
June 4, (Pal Telegraph – By Lynda Brayer) During the pre-dawn hours of May 31, 2010, the Israeli Navy attacked the six civilian vessels of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The attack took place in international waters against ships flying under national flags of countries with which Israel is not at war, namely Turkey, Greece and the United States.
The ships were carrying civilians from more than sixteen countries.
Since no state of war existed at the time, the attack on these vessels constitutes an act of war against those governments under whose flags the vessels were sailing.
The attack falls within the purview of the ius ad bellum, those laws which govern the resort to armed conflict. Israel’s action does not fall into the category of the ius in bello or the laws which govern the actual conduct of war.
Because this attack was carried out in international waters, the status of the relationship between Hamas, or any other Palestinian body, and the state of Israel is of no relevance whatsoever. Likewise, neither the blockade of Gaza nor Israel’s claims and legal interpretations regarding it has any bearing on its acts of aggression in international waters.
This is not an act of piracy. Piracy is an act of aggression carried out in international waters by individuals and not by states.
The following internationally binding treaties, charters, and agreements are relevant to the attack by Israel:
1. Article 6 of the Charter Provisions of the Nuremburg Trials
(a) Crimes against Peace: namely, planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;
(3) Crimes against Humanity: namely murder…deportation, and any other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war…in execution of or in connection with any crime…whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.
2. 1907 Hague Regulation Convention (XI) Relative to Certain Restrictions with Regard to the Exercise of the Right of Capture in Naval War
Chapter II – The Exemption from Capture of Certain Vessels
Article 4. Vessels charged with religious, scientific, or philanthropic missions are likewise exempt from capture.
The standard for judging the Israeli acts is objective and not subjective. It is irrelevant what Israeli ministers, generals, admirals, or soldiers thought or intended. The test is in what they did.
What they did was engage in acts of war using weapons of war in international waters against vessels that are protected not only in peacetime but also in times of war.
Israel has therefore committed both crimes against the peace and crimes against humanity.
These are crimes that have international jurisdiction. Israeli political and military personnel can be named in trials held in any and all countries of the world. If the Israelis do not attend the trials, they can be tried in abstentia, and those decisions in which the Israelis are found guilty can be executed anywhere in the world.
Because unarmed civilians were murdered by a preplanned military attack, capital crimes have been committed. While it would appear that the international community no longer finds capital punishment civilized, the punishments for these capital crimes can be multiple life sentences.
These crimes give rise to damage claims for huge sums of money and Israeli accounts can be blocked using decisions finding them guilty.
The unarmed vessels were on a philanthropic mission, carrying civilians and humanitarian supplies. Even if Israel were in a state of war with any of these countries, it would be prohibited from capturing the vessels according to the terms of the Hague Convention of 1907.
It follows, therefore, that Israel was first of all not allowed to attack these vessels militarily, and then not to board these vessels by force, capture these vessels, attack the passengers, imprison them on the vessels, forcibly remove them from the vessels, and steal their private property in the form of cameras, computers, clothes, etc.
Every single act carried out by the Israeli military forces in international waters no May 31, 2010, are unqualifiedly and absolutely violations of international law.
Lynda Brayer is a human rights lawyer who specialized in the laws of war and international law in representing Palestinians. She lives in Haifa. She can be reached at email@example.com
The Gaza Freedom Flotilla included six vessels on May 31, 2010
1. Mavi Marmara, passenger boat, Turkey
2. Sofia, cargo ship, Greece
3. Gaza I, cargo ship, Turkey
4. Gaza II, cargo ship, Turkey
5. Spendoni, passenger ship, Greece
6. Challenger I, passenger ship, United States
The majority of the passengers aboard the ships were Turkish citizens. There were also nationals from Britain, Australia, Greece, Canada, Malaysia, Algeria, Serbia, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Kuwait and the United States.
Three German parliamentarians were aboard the Turkish boat that was stormed. There were also two Palestinian Members of the Knesset. Swedish author Henning Mankell was also on board the flotilla.
The crew of a ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza have rejected an offer to unload its cargo in Israel and take it across the border.
The Irish/Malaysian-owned vessel, MV Rachel Corrie, has vowed to continue to sail into an exclusion zone where there was a deadly commando attack by Israeli troops earlier in the week.
Activists refused to accept a deal brokered between officials from the Irish and Israeli Governments as the vessel sailed in international waters just 100 miles from Gaza.
First mate Derek Graham said: “The reason we rejected the offer is because we are trying to highlight the situation that Gaza is under siege by air, sea and land and we are trying to break that siege.
“We want to show this siege is illegal and subjecting a nation to poverty. If we bring this cargo to Ashdod it’s only a fraction of what they need. We need to be able to do this continuously.”
Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Martin said: “If, as is their stated intention, the Israeli government intercepts the Rachel Corrie, the Government demands that it demonstrate every restraint. Those on board the Rachel Corrie have made clear their peaceful intentions and have stated that they will offer no resistance to Israeli forces.”
By Jesse Bacon
Israel has stopped one boat, but it can’t stop the movement. Readers of this blog know the struggle has been going on long before the Gaza Freedom Flotilla set sail, and it continues and will only grow in strength. The protests commemorating the anniversary of the 1967 Occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip are carrying on, as more boats set sail for Gaza.
We’ll have live tweets so night owls and early risers in the United States can follow this protest over at Jewish Voice for Peace’s twitter feed. Then come back here tomorrow for a recap.
Tomorrow: Thousands to Mark 43 Years of Occupation Near Route 443
Palestinians and Israelis will demonstrate tomorrow, Friday, June 4th, near the village of Beit Nuba, which was demolished by Israel in 1967, near Route 443. Similar demonstrations, also denouncing the massacre aboard the Freedom Flotilla will take place across the West Bank.
Dozens of Israeli anti-Occupation organizations will join the Palestinian Popular Committees for a demonstration marking 43 years of occupation tomorrow. The protesters will denounce the killing aboard the Mavi Marmara, and call to end the siege over Gaza, to dismantle the Wall and settlements, and for freedom of movement for Palestinians.
MK Haneen Zouabi, who was aboard the Mavi Marmara,(the boat attacked by Israeli commandoes with at least 10 deaths) Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian al-Mubadara Party, Maher Ghuneim, Minister for the Wall in the Palestinian Authority, former MK Uri Avnery, and Palestinian Legislative Committee Members Qais Abd el-Karim (Abu Laila) and Mahmoud al-Aloul – will participate in the demonstration.
Additional demonstrations will take place in the villages on Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah, Deir al-Ghussoun, north of Tul Karem, Ni’ilin – where demonstrators will also mark a year to the death of protester Aqel Srour by sniper-fire shot at him during a demonstration, and in the villages of Bil’in, West of Ramallah and al-Ma’asara, south of Bethlehem, where demonstrators will carry mock ships and will try to break the siege on their own villages.
Road to nowhere: During the occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, the Israeli army destroyed the villages of Yalu, Beit Nuba and Amuasse in the Latrun enclave. “Canada Park” and a number of settlements were built on their lands.
Most of the residents of these three displaced villages currently live in villages near Highway 443, such as Beit Liqya, Beit Sira and Beit Ur. In the eighties, thousands of acres were confiscated by Israel along the road, claiming that the road will serve as the main traffic artery for these villages to Ramallah.
However, the road has been closed for years for Palestinian vehicles. Following the High Court ruling on Route 443, a small section of the road was opened last week for Palestinian traffic, but is still nearly useless for the villagers, as access to Ramallah from it is disallowed, turning it into a highway to nowhere for Palestinians.
Today I do not only want to speak to my dear people but to all of humanity.
I want to call to the conscience and hearts and minds of the whole of humanity, I would like to share courageously my feelings.
Yesterday, in the darkest moment of the night two bloody attacks occurred.
The first of them was the terrorist attack against our military troop at the Iskenderun Naval Base. In this malicious, vicious attack six of our soldiers died, and they have become martyrs. Seven of our soldiers have been injured.
The second, at dawn in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, the heart of humanity has taken one of her heaviest wounds in history. The aid ships, from the humanitarian heart, these flowing aid ships have been hindered with guns, by violence, despotism.
They, who with mercy, compassion and humaneness, loaded onto these ships, they could not reach their place of destination, they were wreaked in carnage.
Yesterday, beginning in the morning hours, armed elements of the Israeli Army stopped humanitarian aid being brought to the Gazan people, from more than 32 countries, with 600 people inside carried by the Free Gaza Flotilla, in international waters, in an absolutely illegal way did they attack, spilling the blood of innocent humans.
At this violent attack, resulting in casualties and persons being wounded, the humanitarian aid ships were seized and sequestered. This inhuman attack against those women, young people, religious functionaries that the ship was carrying, I do one more time strongly, severely condemn.
I have declared in Chile. Here I do stress it one more time. The bloody massacre of Israel, brought against the ships bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza is a massacre deserving of any kind of curse and condemnation. This is openly an attack against international law, against the heart of humanity, against world peace, I say against the heart of humanity, for, on those ships were people from all nations, all religions. People alone and they only were bringing humanitarian aid to those under blockade, embargo, to the people in Gaza. The ships, before they left openly declared to the entire world their cargo, their intention, their mission. As witness to this openly humanitarian aid from the world and our country 60 journalists have entered the ships as well. In international waters, in open sea, this armed attack against 600 people and 6 ships which were carrying aid to oppressed people, poor people, to starved people, to people whose homes were destroyed – this was openly an attack against the basic philosophy of the United Nations.
The ships which set sail, be it from Turkey be it from other countries, were completely stocked to carry out the humanitarian purpose, having aid material. They were, according to international traffic rules, strictly controlled. At the same time on the ships were no other passengers than civilians and aid volunteers. The ships were flying white flags. Despite all those conditions the ships were subject to an armed attack.
As you know we were during that time on our Latin America program. Due to this abhorrent terrorist attack which occurred in Hatay and Israel’s illegal attack against aid ships, we had to cut our work sort in Chile and return to our country. From the very first moment we had been watching the events closely. We have taken the necessary steps, together with our friends in Turkey. Yesterday morning at 6:30, deputy Bülent Arınç, together with related ministers and administration representatives, organised an evaluation meeting in which we have considered the issue in all its dimensions. Our Foreign Ministry, our intelligence units, related establishments and armed forces have been monitoring the issue very closely.
Our Minister of Foreign Affairs and our Minister of Defense, talking on the phone with Israel’s Minister of Defense, forcefully put forth our reaction and sensitivities. And I, together with my ministers, evaluating the events during the entire night, have been continuously in contact with Turkey. On the other hand I have established contacts with the international community and for now this process continues. In this framework, I have put on the table everything necessary to do in all the dimensions of this situation. I urgently I did the steps necessary. The Republic of Turkey is using all possibilities, every chance made available by international law and diplomacy. And Turkey will keep using it. In this framework, Turkey’s ambassador to Tel Aviv has been called back. Three joint military operations which were on the agenda have been cancelled. Our Minister of Foreign Affairs went to New York and The UN Security Council has been called for an urgent meeting and it was ensured that there would be an urgent, extraordinary meeting. The UN Security Council has made a statement condemning Israel. It has been pointed out in the statement the need to open an investigation, to set free immediately the civilians and the injured. The matches of our youth football team have been cancelled. NATO’s Council has been called for an extraordinary meeting. Furthermore, the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the Arab League, European Union and all related establishments have been contacted, international institutions have been called to duty. The Organisation of Islamic Conference will hold a meeting on Monday.
Primarily, the safety and security of the convoy and our citizens in the convoy has to be ensured. Necessities to ensure the treatment of the injured are being taken care of. Israel has said: “Let us send the injured to you.” We have replied that we have the will and power to take our injured ourselves, and we have refused this offer. Two military ambulance aircrafts have taken off to bring our injured back. And now, they shall be taking our injured, and then returning to this destination. With civil aircraft the Ministry of Health is about to arrive there. To the Israeli Ambassador, who was summoned to the Foreign Ministry, a call was made to demand the immediate return of the citizens of the Turkish Republic, and setting the captured ships free.
Further, all efforts to attend to the treatment of the injured, bringing them to Turkey, have been made and in our country all measures have been taken. Israel, hindering the international community’s access to information from the first moment of the incident, now must inform the world public opinion in a truthful way, and must not refrain from international cooperation. Israel must understand the seriousness of the situation and must stop committing actions such as this that are wrong. Israel’s attitude at this stage is being watched by the world’s people, the public opinion is forming its views. Those who are affiliated with the effort are in touch and are coordinating with the countries whose citizens are in the flotilla.
The ships fly the flags of Turkey, Greece and the Comore Islands, there are people from 32 countries involved. I expect those countries, too, to show the necessary reaction and sensitivity. Thus I once again express that Israel must immediately lift the inhuman embargo against Gaza. [15 seconds applause]. Israel must not hinder that the humanitarian aid reaches its destination.
Dear comrades, as you know do we prosecute together with Spain the Alliance of Civilisations’ work. Our goal and mission is to reinforce the conviction that different religions, different civilisations and cultures can live in peace and tolerance together. It is a struggle so that instead of hatred and animosity, love will dominate.
Regrettably I must say, the incidents which occurred yesterday, in terms of humanity’s collective civilisation and culture have been a black mark. In terms of history of humanity this has been recorded as a major shame. Attacking humanitarian aid ships with arms, to massacre innocent people, treating civilians as terrorists is in terms of humanity a great defeat. A despicably cowardly and vicious act of presumption that is recklessness and dauntless. [20 seconds applause].
We know, war as well as peace has its laws. In war you do not attack children, in war you do not attack women, old people, in war you do not attack civilians or religious functionaries, in war you do not attack those who are hoisting the white flag, health and rescue personnel; not in wartime, but in peace time, those who do these things not only violate the law, at the same time they trample humanity under their feet, they abandon humanity.
Despots, gangsters even pirates have specific sensitiveness, follow some specific morals. Those who do not follow any morality or ethics, those who do not act with any sensitivity, to call them such names would even be a compliment to them. Israel has, by attacking a ship with volunteers from 32 countries, in fact defied the world. World peace has been deeply wounded. This brazen, irresponsible, reckless government that recognises no law and tramples on any kind of humanitarian virtue, this attack of the Israeli government by all means – but by all means, must be punished.
A government, having made lying its state policy and does not blush on account of the crime it commits, instead of expecting them to open an investigation, the international community must investigate this incident in all its dimensions and must give the legal response.
The State of Turkey won’t be satisfied only by watching this. Turkey is not an adolescent, rootless state. It is in no way a tribal State! No one should attempt to play around with this nation, to test the patience of Turkey. As precious as Turkey’s partnership is, so harsh will be her hostility.
Losing Turkey’s friendship and partnership is a price itself to pay. We have always been in a historical friendship and collaboration with the Israeli and Jewish people. I do so believe, those Israeli people who watched this bloody attack in tears, who strongly criticise it, do understand very well that this incident does not befit human dignity, is a great mistake, how a heavy hit strike it has been to the friendship of both countries.
The issue is not a matter between Turkey and Israel. The issue is Israel’s present lawlessness, and recognising the present government’s inhuman practices, using violence, spilling blood, showing approaches that threaten peace.
Turkey has always been, in the Middle East, on the side of peace. She has contributed to regional stability and security. In the recent past, for Israel’s relations with Palestine, Syria and Lebanon to be normalized, the country contributing was also Turkey. Israel now is showing attitudes, taking the most important peace defender in the region, and opposing her. Israel from now on, must give up the carelessness it shows in explaingin the injustice being practised with their justifications about security, criticism that they call anti-semitism.
There is an understanding where violence is its policy, Israel sees that it is licit for itself to oppress, tyrannize, maltreat and she does not hesitate to shed blood. There is no longer any way for the illegal actions of Israel to be covered, to be misinterpreted intentionally, to be ignored. The time has come for the International community to say: STOP!
It is Israel who does not recognise over 100 UN Security Council resolutions against her. So, the United Nations cannot be content with the condemnation decision it has taken last night.
I just talked to the General Secretary of the United Nations. He is also coming to New York. And this evening at 8 o’clock Mr. Obama said he would, I will also talk to him. I declare here that I will share precisely these issues with them.
Israel’s aggressive manner doubtlessly takes its source from the power they get from elsewhere. At this point, as Turkey our precision is obvious. And I talked yesterday from Chile with one of United Nations Security Council permanent members, Mrs. Merkel. I spoke with others today. I talked to England’s new Prime Minister, he called as well, I am also going to talk to him, I called him earlier and we talked, today we will discuss this again. And with the others we will also talk.
We cannot leave Israel with what they have done, alone. We cannot say to the Israeli government, all you do will go to your advantage. Everything has a price. And this government will have to pay for this.
For this kind of comprehension that does not show respect for human life, that they find it impossible to esteem any right and law, we cannot have a peaceful attitude, my comrades.
It is impossible to support a comprehension that does not esteem and respect the human and human rights.
A State considering the security of its own people cannot achieve this by obtaining the hate and hostility of the whole world with their actions.
An administration that does not esteem others as humans except its own people cannot have a concern called peace.
Israel has been destroying her defense shields one by one, losing one by one her alliance points, isolating herself. The Israeli administration, generating grudges and hatred in the Middle East, is setting dynamite off in regional peace, as an instability is spreading, Pandora’s Box comes out like iodine.
The international community must immediately take action.
I also want to call to the Israeli people from here. We have always been against anti-semitism. We have raised our voice against the injustice against the Jewish people. We have contributed so that the Israeli people can live in peace and security in the Middle East. Now, as the Israeli people it is your turn to show the same sensitive attitude, the same humane attitude, to say, “Stop these cruelties being done.”
The policy of violence shown by the coalition of the government, violating any kind of right and law, is totally putting Israel’s interests aside. Is clearly putting your peace and security at risk. Due to the aggressive attitude of your government, the State of Israel assumes a piracy position, engaging in banditry.
Those reckless administrators, thinking that they, with lies, deceit, shedding blood, aggressiveness, piracy, using state terrorism, the massacre of innocent people do govern a State. But those reckless politicians primarily do evil to Israel and the Israeli people.
Before all else you must say stop to this situation. By the way, I thank the Turkish Jewish Community, putting in words their right and sincere reaction to the event. Our Jewish citizens have, as members of the Turkish people, defended, and continue to defend the right position of Turkey to the utmost.
Looking with hatred upon our Jewish citizens or being in any other different manner by anyone is not acceptable, it cannot be and should never be.
Dear brothers, sisters, today is a new day. Today is a new beginnig, a birth. Nothing will be like before, this is clearly apparent. An aggressive State which openly murders, massacres, cannot explain itself to humanity without regretting, without being held to account for it, cannot stand in the face of the international community.
Those ships were all ships of mercy. And their cargo was the heart of humanity.
72 miles far from their own waters, entirely in open sea and international waters, Israel carried out an operation on a ship, a civil ship, not a military ship, one is not allowed even do this at all. To make an operation on a civil ship, even the capture of the passengers is itself a crime. Attacking innocent people with arms, to shed blood, and to massacre is clearly state terrorism. They deny, they say that they were shot at. We are sick of your lies, we are sick. Be honest, honest, be honest.
The captured ships, together with the staff and volunteers immediately must be released. With the volunteers (activists) and Members of the European Parliament, 60 journalists, with his mother on board, the one yeare old infant Kaan, who was released, on the ships, no one has the right to show those ships as if they had any other intention, purpose, mission than to deliver humanitarian aid. This attack has one more time clearly proved the inhuman oppression and cruelty Israel for years has been using regarding Palestine and Gaza.
I have said it once before. The Israeli administrators, whom we told into their face how well they know to murder, have one more time shown the world how good they indeed are in massacre. A comprehension, handcuffing even heavily wounded innocent people they have shot at. Hey! Can there be an explanation for his? Lying on the stretcher, wounded, you even handcuff him! Can that be explained with human rights, with universal values? It is no longer possible to tell the world how much those were shown humanity.
All people of the earth condemn this clear cruelty, I know this. But it is not enough anymore to only condemn, we have to obtain results.
All people on earth who want justice on earth, one day not power but justice will dominate, you should know that, I want this.
Turkey will use all opportunities that international law allows. At this course we will move together with the international community. I want all humanity to attract attention to this issue. With her blood-shedding policy Israel cannot legitimate this illegal, this bloody murder with any excuse, she cannot explain it.
Israel, with no excuse, no reason can wash the blood on her hands. The issue, case created by the bloody attack in the Mediterrenean Sea, is not the problem between two countries but the problem of the entire world. I believe that no country considering humane values and virtues, no international institution will just watch a murder of these dimensions.
From now on, whoever shuts their eyes to the bloody attacks of Israel, whoever ignores them, should know, they are accomplices of these murders. It has been understood that the matter is not a matter of defending against terrorism, that the matter is not struggle against terrorism, but that the matter is an effort of a massacre towards a city, towards all people of a city, in order to completely exterminate them, has one more time been proven with this last incident that occurred.
You throw bombs on these people, you try phosphorous bombs on these people, you bomb hospitals, you bomb mosques, you attack schools, you bomb playgrounds, you even aim at the UN Office, as if this illegality was not enough, you also cut off all kinds of needs of those people.
And after all of this, you won’t withhold the aid volunteers who try to deliver to these people medicine, food, construction materials, to feel your inhuman savagery.
Anyone, everyone can condone, tolerate this illegality. I opnely say, stressing it, insidiously can support it, but Israel should not make the mistake of comparing Turkey with others. Such a mistake will have a very high price.
Israel, who shot a bullet on innocence and mercy, has chosen with this murder in the open sea, solitariness against the whole world. Has chosen to be isolated.
I say it one more time. If everyone keeps silent, if all shut their eyes, if all turn their backs; we, as Turkey, we won’t turn our back to Palestine, to the Palestinian people, to Gaza. We won’t shut our eyes! We won’t cease crying for Palestine!!!
My dear brothers and sisters, our nation has to be firm. Our people must have dignity worthy of Turkey. We will take it into our hearts. The wounds of our wounded we will all together heal.
We are aware with satisfaction that all around in Turkey our people with a great sensitiveness are watching the issue closely, they are showing their democratic reactions lawfully.
To say it, this is appropriate for our people. I believe that all our citizens will keep their steadfastness, and move in dignity and common sense. Everyone should know and be sure, the love and friendship ships flowing down from the heart of humanity will pass one day all hindrance, barricades and reach their destination.To those who stand behind this inhuman, this inhuman and illegal operation;
As much as you stand behind illegality, we stand behind laws.
As much as you stand behind the bloody operation, aggressivenes, behind terror, as much do we stand behind justice.
As much as you stand against civilians, against the oppressed in Gaza, Palestine as much stand we next to, behind civilians, innocent people, the Palestinian people, the people in Gaza.
We have been honoured having this status through history, we are proud of it, and also from now on we will continue to act and move with the mission our history, civilisation and State tradition has given us.
MV Rachel Corrie avoided capture during flotilla raid but Israeli lieutenant says ‘we will be ready’
Medical supplies being loaded into the MV Rachel Corrie, which was named after a 23-year-old American killed in Gaza in 2003. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
The final boat in the Gaza aid flotilla was sailing at full speed towards the territory’s coast tonight despite warnings that it would be intercepted by Israeli forces.
The MV Rachel Corrie, a 40-year-old cargo ship bought by the Irish arm of the Free Gaza Movement, was delayed and avoided capture during Monday night’s assault. Tonight it was still in international waters about two days from Gaza, carrying a consignment of aid and 19 activists and crew, among them five Irish nationals, the organisation said.
The Irish taoiseach, Brian Cowen, warned Israel tonight that he expected no violence against those on the Rachel Corrie.
“If any harm comes to any of our citizens it will have the most serious consequences,” he said, calling on Israel to guarantee the vessel safe passage through the military blockade of Gaza.
The ship, named after the 23-year-old American killed in Gaza in 2003 while trying to prevent an Israeli bulldozer demolishing a Palestinian home, had halted in the Mediterranean following the assault while those on board – among them the Nobel peace laureate Máiread Maguire and Denis Halliday, a retired senior UN diplomat – discussed whether they should continue.
It was now carrying as a “second wave” of the flotilla, said Niamh Moloughney, who organised the sailing in Ireland.
“I’d say the mood on board is resilient and steadfast. When people signed up to this they knew what might happen,” said Moloughney. “We expected we would be confronted and there would be a stand-off, but no one expected this. But there’s never really been a question of the boat turning back.”
As well as the Irish nationals, the 1,200-tonne boat is carrying six Malaysians and eight crew of varying nationalities.
All those on board had received training in non-violent resistance before the sailing and had pledged not to fight back if the boat was boarded, Moloughney added.
Speaking on the boat’s satellite phone, Maguire said she was determined the boat should continue on its course.
“We’re not frightened, no, we hope the Israeli government will allow us to go freely in and we know the international community are calling for our safe passage,” she said.
Halliday said he had spoken to Ireland’s foreign minister, Micheál Martin. “He was very reassuring that the government was behind us and he gave us a complete green light to do what we’re doing and he’ll protect us as much as he can,” Halliday said.
Martin himself told parliament: “We will be watching this situation very closely – as indeed will the world – and it is imperative that Israel avoid any action which leads to further bloodshed.”
It appeared clear, however, that Israel planned to stop the ship.
The country’s military was carrying out “professional investigations” into what happened in Monday’s raid, an Israeli marine lieutenant, who was not identified, told Israel’s Army Radio. He added: “And we will also be ready for the Rachel Corrie.”The boat, which was bought at auction by the Free Gaza Movement after being impounded a year before in Dundalk, is carrying a consignment including medical equipment, wheelchairs, school supplies and cement, according to the organisation.