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Israeli military forcibly stops aid boat to Gaza — again

Free Gaza Movement

5 June 2010

(Off the Gaza coast, 5 JUNE) – Just before 9am this morning, the Israeli
military forcibly siezed the Irish-owned humanitarian relief ship, the MV
Rachel Corrie, from delivering over 1000 tons of medical and construction
supplies to besieged Gaza. For the second time in less then a week,
Israeli naval commandos stormed an unarmed aid ship, brutally taking its
passengers hostage and towing the ship toward Ashdod port in Southern
Israel. It is not yet known whether any of the Rachel Corrie’s passengers
were killed or injured during the attack, but they are believed to be

The Corrie carried 11 passengers and 9 crew from 5 different countires,
mostly Ireland and Malaysia. The passengers included Nobel Peace Prize
laureate Mairead Maguire, Parit Member of the Malaysian Parliament Mohd
Nizar Zakaria, and former UN Assistant Secretary General, Denis Halliday.
Nine international human rights workers were killed on Monday when Israeli
commandos violently stormed the Turkish aid ship, Mavi Marmara and five
other unarmed boats taking supplies to Gaza. Prior to being taken hostage
by Israeli forces, Derek Graham, an Irish coordinator with the Free Gaza
Movement, stated that: “Despite what happened on the Mavi Marmara earlier
this week, we are not afraid.

The 1200-ton cargo ship was purchased through a special fund set up by
former Malaysian Prime Minister and Perdana Global Peace Organisation
(PGPO) chairman Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. The ship was named after an
American human rights worker, killed in 2003 when she was crushed by an
Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip. Its cargo included hundreds
of tons of medical equipment and cement, as well as paper from the people
of Norway, donated to UN-run schools in Gaza.

According to Denis Halliday: “We are the only Gaza-bound aid ship left out
here. We’re determined to deliver our cargo.” The Rachel Corrie had been
part of the Freedom Flotilla, a 40-nation effort to break through Israel’s
illegal blockade, before being forced to drop off late last week due to
suspicious mechanical problems.

The attack on the Rachel Corrie may spell trouble for Israel’s
relationship with Ireland. The Irish government had formally requested
Israel allow the ship to reach Gaza. On 1 June, the Irish parliament also
passed an all-party motion condemning Israel’s use of military force
against civilian aid ships, and demanding “an end to the illegal Israeli
blockade of Gaza.”

Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire summed up the hopes of this joint
Irish-Malaysian effort to overcome Israel’s cruel blockade by saying: “We
are inspired by the people of Gaza whose courage, love and joy in
welcoming us, even in the midst of such suffering gives us all hope. They
represent the very best of humanity, and we are all privileged to be given
the opportunity to support them in their nonviolent struggle for human
dignity, and freedom. This trip will again highlight Israel’s criminal
blockade and illegal occupation. In a demonstration of the power of global
citizen action, we hope to awaken the conscience of all.”

Passengers aboard the Rachel Corrie include:
Ahmed Faizal bin Azumu, human rights worker, Malaysia
Matthias Chang, attorney, author & human rights worker, Malaysia
Derek Graham, Free Gaza Ireland
Jenny Graham, Free Gaza Ireland
Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General, Ireland
Mohd Jufri Bin Mohd Judin, journalist, Malaysia
Shamsul Akmar Musa Kamal, PGPO representative, Malaysia
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Ireland
Abdul Halim Bin Mohamed, journalist, Malaysia
Fiona Thompson, film-maker, Ireland
The Hon. Mohd Nizar Zakaria, Parit Member of Parliament, Malaysia