Gaza Flotilla 311.
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
The Irish Foreign Minister, Dr. Michael Martin announced on Friday night that an agreement had been reached with Israel, whereby the Rachel Corrie would proceed to Ashdod where its contents would be checked, unloaded and shipped to Gaza under observation by representatives of the activists, the UN and the Irish government. The activists rejected this offer, continuing to insist on sailing to Gaza and breaking the Israeli blockade, but also stated (according to the Irish FM) that they would not resist the IDF, should it decide to board the ship.RELATED:
The ship is expected to close in on Gaza Saturday
morning. It's the second attempt this week by the Free Gaza Movement to
break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza as well as its closure of that
area's land passages to all but humanitarian aid.
Conflicting claims of 'Corrie' plans
Hamas raids, closes NGO offices
Blundering into harm's way
morning, nine activists were killed during an IDF sea raid of the Free
Gaza Movement's flotilla of six ships which had wanted to reach the Gaza
want to once
again deliver a message that has been delivered in both public and
private channels to the Rachel Corrie ship heading toward Gaza," Foreign
Ministry Director General Yossi Gal said in a statement he released to
He also held a short press conference for the
foreign media to deliver the message on camera at the instruction of the
septet forum of senior cabinet members which met late Thursday night.
cabinet agreed that Israel must maintain the naval blockade of Gaza so
that it could prevent Iran and terrorists groups such as Hizbullah from
sending weapons to Hamas.
Israel's navy is prepared to intercept
the ship and Netanyahu has instructed it not to harm the activists.
Foreign Ministry said it hoped the activists on board would reconsider
"We have no desire for a confrontation," said
Gal. "We have no desire to board the ship. If the ship decides to sail
the port of Ashdod, then we will ensure its safe arrival and will not
board it," he said.
"Israel is prepared to receive the ship and
to offload its contents. After an inspection to ensure that no weapons
and war materials are on board, we are prepared to deliver all of the
goods to Gaza," Gal said.
"Representative of the people on board
and relevant NGOs are welcome to accompany the goods to the crossings,"
Gaza co-founder: We won't cede to Israel's request
Berlin, a co-founder of the Free Gaza movement, said those on board the
ship had no intention of ceding to Israel's request. Nor, she said,
were they impressed by Netanyahu's statements Thursday to UN Middle East
envoy Tony Blair, in which he promised to increase the amount and
variety of goods which could enter Gaza by land.
"We do not trust
Israel anymore," said Berlin.
"Our mission is to break the
blockade of Gaza," she told The Jerusalem Post. Unlike the six
ship flotilla which had close to 700 people, the Rachel Corrie,
she said, had only 20 people on board. These people are all non-violent,
The Foreign Ministry in Ireland said it had been in
touch with the Israeli government regarding the rights of its citizens
on board the ship, but did not elaborate.
In Washington, the
State Department said US officials had been in touch with "multiple"
countries, including the Israeli and Irish governments, about the latest
effort to reach Gaza by boat.
"Everyone wants to avoid a
repetition of [Monday's] tragic incident," spokesman P.J. Crowley said.
He added that the US had been in contact numerous times with Israeli
authorities in recent weeks. "We urged caution and restraint," he said.
condemnation continued Friday, with protests in Syria, Greece, Bahrain
and Malaysia, where some demonstrators burned Israeli flags and carried
mock coffins. In Norway, the military canceled a seminar scheduled for
later this month because an Israeli army officer was to have lectured.
laureate, former UN assistant head on board ship
Israel has allowed ships through five times, but has blocked them from
entering Gaza waters since a three-week military offensive against
Gaza's Hamas rulers in January 2009.
Israeli claims that went it intercepted Monday's flotilla of ships
activists on one of them, the Marmara, ambushed the soldiers after they
descended onto the board from helicopters. The military and Turkish TV
have released videotape that backs up that claim. Returning activists
admitted fighting with the Israeli commandos but insisted their actions
were in self-defense because the ships were being boarded in
international waters by a military force.
The Marmara, which was carrying hundreds of activists
sponsored by an Islamic aid group from Turkey, the Foundation for Human
Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief. Israel outlawed the group,
known by its Turkish acronym IHH, in 2008 because of alleged ties to
The Rachel Corrie is owned by the Free Gaza Movement.
It set sail from Ireland. It is flying a Cambodian flag and is funded
by money raised by a former prime minister of Malaysia. Among the
passengers are two well known Irish citizens, Nobel Peace
Laureate Mairead Maguire and Denis Halliday, a former UN assistant
secretary-general. Also on board are Malaysian journalists, a member of
its parliament and
a former political secretary.
AP contributed to this report.