Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced June 5 the seizure without resistance of the Gaza-bound aid ship Rachel Corrie. The Israeli military says soldiers boarded the Rachel Corrie from the sea rather than from helicopter, in contrast to the deadly raid on an aid convoy five days ago. The ship has been taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod. Israel says it will question those on board at the port and transfer the aid to the Gaza Strip by land after checking the cargo for banned items.
The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), which dispatched the Rachel Corrie, protested against the “hijacking” of the ship and its passengers by the Israel Defense Forces. “For the second time in less then a week, Israeli forces stormed and hijacked an unarmed aid ship, kidnapping its passengers and forcing the ship toward Ashdod Port in southern Israel. It is not yet known whether any of the Rachel Corrie‘s passengers sustained injuries during the attack, but they are believed to be unharmed,” the organization said in a statement.
Five Irish national on board Irish nationals include the Nobel peace prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire. Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described the Israeli intervention as a “raid” and called it a “completely unacceptable and unjustified use of force.” He added: “The Rachel Corrie should have been allowed to proceed to Gaza without Israeli aggression.”
But Netanyahu issued a statement saying: “Forces used the same procedures for Monday’s flotilla and Saturday’s sailing but was met by a different response. On today’s ship and in five of the six vessels in the previous flotilla, [the boarding] procedure ended without casualties. The only difference was with one ship where extremist Islamic activists, supporters of terrorism, waited for our troops on the deck with axes and knives.” (AFP, The Telegraph, BBC News, June 5)
See our last post on the Gaza crisis.