Rachel Corrie Seized In International Waters By Israeli Commandos, Headed To Port In Ashdod

 IDF Aerial Video Of Boarding Of Commandos – http://ht.ly/1UsdJ

msnbc.com news services
updated 7:12 a.m. CT, Sat., June 5, 2010 //

JERUSALEM – Israeli forces seized a Gaza-bound aid vessel without meeting resistance Saturday, preventing it from breaking an Israeli maritime blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory days after a similar effort turned bloody.

The IDF said they informed the crew of the MV Rachel Corrie that the Gaza Strip was under blockade and that the ship should put to port in the southern coastal city of Ashdod.

However, officials said the Irish ship continued steaming toward Gaza despite the presence of three Israeli warships sent to shadow the vessel.

The ship — named for an American college student who was crushed to death by a bulldozer in 2003 while protesting Israeli house demolitions in Gaza — was carrying hundreds of tons of aid, including wheelchairs, medical supplies and cement.

The Rachel Corrie had got to roughly 40 miles off the coast of Gaza at about 8 a.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) Saturday when officials asked the crew by radio to identify themselves, Israeli officials told NBC news.

“You are approaching an area of hostilities which is under a naval blockade,” the military said in a transcript of excerpts of its communication with the ship.

It urged the boat to divert to Ashdod, where its cargo would be unloaded and transferred to Gaza if it passed a security inspection, but the ship rejected the invitation, the military said.

The military said its forces boarded the ship from the sea, without using helicopters.

The operation went peacefully and the boat was en route to Ashdod, the IDF told NBC News.

“The ship has been boarded and there was full compliance from the crew and passengers on board,” an Israeli military spokesperson told Reuters.

The IDF posted a video taken from the air on YouTube which it said showed its forces boarding the Rachel Corrie. A spokesperson for Free Gaza Ireland confirmed to msnbc.com that the boat in the footage was the Rachel Corrie.

The takeover stood in contrast to a violent confrontation at sea Monday when Israeli commandos blocked a Turkish aid convoy of six ships trying to break the blockade. At the time, the commandos rappelled from helicopters and a clash with passengers left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

Taken ‘hostage’
Greta Berlin, of the Free Gaza movement, which was sponsoring the Rachel Corrie, said in a statement the Israeli military “forcibly seized the Irish-owned humanitarian relief ship.”

“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,” she said. “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 unharmed.”

Those aboard had said in advance they would not resist any boarding.

The Rachel Corrie left Malta on Monday, the same day as the clash between Israeli forces and pro-Palestinian activists on the Turkish convoy.

Autopsy results on the dead activists — eight Turks and a U.S. citizen of Turkish heritage — showed they had been shot a total of 30 times, many at close range, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Saturday. Five were killed by gunshots to the head, it said.

Turkish-American activist Fulkan Dogan, who was born in New York, was shot five times from less than 18 inches away, in the face, the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back, the paper said. In addition to those killed, 48 others received gunshot wounds and six activists were still missing.

Diplomatic fallout and protests across Europe and the Muslim world have increased pressure to end the embargo Israel imposed after the Islamic militant Hamas group seized power in Gaza three years ago.

The blockade has plunged the territory’s 1.5 million residents deeper into poverty and sharply raised Mideast tensions as the U.S. makes a new push for regional peace.

The Rachel Corrie differed significantly from the flotilla intercepted Monday.

————————————————————————————————————————

Global Research, June 5, 2010
– 2010-06-04
  // //  
Latest news communicated to Global Research directly from the Rachel Corrie MV in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Irish-flagged ship Rachel Corrie MV which is sailing towards the Gaza Coastline in international waters has, as of  3.15am GMT, June 5th, been approached by three Israeli patrol boats. No action has as yet been been taken by the patrol boats. The ship is reported to be some 50 km. off the Gaza coastline.

Message from Matthias Chang, head of the Malaysian delegation:

9:30am (KL Time) – Three Israeli patrol boats are now following Rachel Corrie. (2.30am GMT)

10:00am (KL Time) – Israeli boats coming towards our ship. Stay calm. Send out message. (3.00am GMT) 

Last contact, 10:35am (KL Time) – They have jammed our radar. (3.35 GMT)
 
(Note: KL Time approximately 5-6 hours ahead of Rachel Corrie)
 
Please spread far and wide ..”

According the the Jerusalem Post, the Malaysian representative of the Perdana Global Peace Organization on board the Rachel Corrie:  

“stated on its website Saturday morning that the ship’s passengers had agreed to let an international force search the ship, before it proceeds to Gaza. 

The statement said that, while the activists rejected Israel’s right to blockade Gaza, the activists ‘request and invite for an independent international body, preferably inspectors from the the United Nations to board the ship and do the necessary to certify as to the nature of the cargo on board.'”

LATEST: The Rachel Corrie MV was boarded by the Israeli Navy close to Gaza at about 5.50am local time. The passengers are said to be under arrest.

11.00am GMT  The passengers and crew are unharmed. Below is the press statement of the Maylasian Minstry of Foreign Affairs

Press Release by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia:
 
Malaysia strongly demands Israel to ensure the safety of all the humanitarian activists onboard the cargo vessel MV Rachel Corrie that was seized by the Israeli Defence Force early morning of 5 June 2010.
 
Malaysia also demands for Israel not to take any drastic and violent military action on the unarmed passengers of the Rachel Corrie.

All the humanitarian activists on board the Rachel Corrie should be given the necessary assistance to ensure their safety. Malaysia also calls on Israel to ensure a safe passage for the vessel to Gaza to deliver the humanitarian cargo. In this regard, Malaysia urges the International Community to persuade Israel to allow the humanitarian vessel to reach Gaza safely.
 
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is closely monitoring the developments as there are six Malaysians on board the Rachel Corrie.
 
Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia
 
5 June 2010


ABC News Australia.Includes statement by IDF. “why do it the illegal way?” she said. “There is a marine blockade around Gaza, and not for just the fun of it.”Israeli forces have seized an Irish-owned ship bound for Gaza, boarding the Rachel Corrie close to the Gaza shore.”The ship has been boarded and there was full compliance from the crew and passengers on board,” a spokeswoman for the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) said.

The IDF says no helicopters were used and there were no reports of violence.

It says the boat will be brought to Ashdod Port where goods will be inspected and transferred to Gaza via land crossings.

The move came after the Rachel Corrie refused to respond to four requests from the navy to head for the southern Israeli port of Ashdod, and stayed its course for the Gaza Strip.

The Irish-owned vessel – named after American pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed in the Gaza Strip in 2003 – has 11 passengers on board.

It is carrying tonnes of aid for Gaza, including cement, which Israel bans because of concerns it could be used to produce weapons.

Before the boat was seized, IDF spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich told the group they must come to Israel if they want the aid to make it to Gaza.

“If the goal of this flotilla, or this boat specifically, is to bring material into Gaza then we have no problem, but why do it the illegal way?” she said.

“There is a marine blockade around Gaza, and not for just the fun of it. Only six months ago we found a civilian ship coming from Iran here to Ashdod Port filled with munitions and weaponry.”

The apparently peaceful ending to the standoff comes just five days after the Israeli naval commandos raided another aid ship heading for Gaza.

The operation left nine foreign activists dead and scores wounded, including seven Israeli soldiers.

emphasis added by Global Research

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One Response to “Rachel Corrie Seized In International Waters By Israeli Commandos, Headed To Port In Ashdod”
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