Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 1 March 2015

Irish aid ship Rachel Corrie heading for showdown with Israelis

Archive photo of Fiachra O'Luaine from Carndonagh, Co. Donegal, on the Rachel Corrie
Archive photo of Fiachra O'Luaine from Carndonagh, Co. Donegal, on the Rachel Corrie
Irish activist Shane Dillon arrives back at Dublin Airport after he was deported from Israel following a commando raid on the Gaza aid flotilla
Irish activist Shane Dillon arrives back at Dublin Airport after he was deported from Israel following a commando raid on the Gaza aid flotilla
Irish activist Shane Dillon arrives back at Dublin Airport after he was deported from Israel following a commando raid on the Gaza aid flotilla
Ibrahim Musaji's mother Fatima (left) and sister is Farhara are interviewed at their home in Gloucester, after Ibrahim was believed to be amongst those that were taking part in the aid flotilla attacked by Israelis
Nobel peace prize winner Mairead Maguire standing beside the Cargo ship the MV Rachel Corrie 12/05/10
Demonstrators gather in front of the White House to protest against US funding of Israel in Lafayette Park June 1, 2010 in Washington, DC
Peter Venner was seized by Israeli authorities
Demonstrators gather in front of the White House to protest against U.S. funding of Israel in Lafayette Park June 1, 2010 in Washington, DC
Pakistani protesters who try to reach the US Consulate, confront police officers during a rally denouncing Israel's raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip, Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators hold a Turkish national flag and shout anti-Israel slogans during a protest in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Tuesday, June, 1, 2010
Egyptian activists clash with riot police during a protest against the Israeli naval operation storming a flotilla of ships carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip
A protester hangs on a lamp outside Belfast City Hall
Gerry Adams with protesters outside Belfast City Hall
Deputy First Minister Minister Martin McGuinness who joined several hundred people in Derry's Guild Hall Square in protest at the raid on the aid flotilla which was travelling to Gaza
Some of the several hundred people in Derry's Guild Hall Square in protest at the raid on the aid flotilla which was travelling to Gaza
A protester hangs on a lamp outside Belfasat City Hall
Protesters outside Belfast City Hall
Protesters outside Belfast City Hall
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Pro-Palestianian campaigners in Whitehall, London
Pro-Palestianian campaigners in Whitehall, London
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Actor Adrian Dunbar (right) joins protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
A large crowd of protesters stand at the entrance to Kensington Palace Green and the Israeli Embassy
An Hasidic Jew, a group who traditionally do not agree with Israel's action against Palestine, reads scripture during a campaign in Whitehall, London
Pro-Palestianian campaigners in Whitehall, London
Turkish women shout anti-Israeli slogans during a protest in front of the UN house in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israeli Navy soldiers prepare to intercept several boats
Protesters burn a Star of David during a demonstration outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israelis attend a demonstration in support of Israel following a deadly raid by the Israel military on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza
A border policeman looks on as Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israeli Navy soldiers intercept several boats headed towards the Gaza Strip
Israeli Navy soldiers prepare to approach and board as they intercept several boats headed towards the Gaza Strip
Israeli Navy soldier stands behind a machine gun aboard a missile ship while Israeli Navy soldiers intercept several boats headed towards the Gaza Strip
An Israeli soldier carries a blood-stained stretcher back to an Israeli army helicopter
View from aboard an Israeli Naval vessel
Israeli Navy soldiers approaches a Navy missile ship
Israeli medics rush an injured man for treatment at the Rambam hospital in the northern Israeli city of Haifa
A Turkish man seen next to a sign in Turkish that reads "down with Israel" and "Free Gaza" as Pro-Palestinian Turks nearby shout slogans during a protest against Israel near the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul
Protesters burn a Star of David during a demonstration outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israeli and foreign left-wing protestors hold placards against Israeli policies during a protest against Israeli naval commandos raid on a flotilla
Protesters clash with police officers outside the Israeli embassy in Athens, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israeli police detain a masked Arab Israeli protester during clashes in the northern Arab Israeli town of Umm el-Fahm, Monday, May 31, 2010
A protester cries during a demonstration at Taksim square in Istanbul, Monday, May 31, 2010
Turkish and international activists seen on the deck of a Turkish ship shortly before Israeli forces boarded the vessel carrying humanitarian aid bound for the blockaded Gaza strip, late Sunday, May 30, 2010
Israeli police detain a masked Arab Israeli protester, center, as an Israeli journalist tries to interview him, during clashes in the northern Arab Israeli town of Umm el-Fahm, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israelis attend a demonstration in support of Israel following a deadly raid by the Israel military on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza
Israelis attend a demonstration in support of Israel following a deadly raid by the Israel military on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza
Israelis attend a demonstration in support of Israel following a deadly raid by the Israel military on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza
Israelis wearing snorkels attend a demonstration in support of Israel
Israeli Navy Intercepts peace boats bound for Gaza
Israeli Navy soldiers aboard a boat as the Israeli Navy intercepts peace boats bound for Gaza on May 31, 2010
Israeli Navy soldiers prepare to disembark a missile ship as the Israeli Navy intercepts peace boats bound for Gaza on May 31, 2010
This video image released by the Turkish Aid group IHH Monday May 31, 2010 purports to show an injured passenger on a Turkish ship, part of an aid convoy heading to the Gaza Strip
Image released by the Turkish Aid group IHH Monday May 31, 2010 purports to show Israeli soldiers aboard a military vessel in international waters off the Gaza
This video image released by the Turkish Aid group IHH Monday May 31, 2010 purports to show Israeli soldiers aiming a gun on the deck of a Turkish ship, part of an aid convoy heading to the Gaza Strip
Palestinian Islamic Jihad supporters hold Turkish flags as they ride on their motorcycles during a protest in Gaza City, Monday, May 31, 2010.
Palestinians ride boats in Gaza waters as a flotilla of aid ships leaves for the blockaded territory (AP)
Israeli Navy sailors embark on the I.N.S. Hanit in order to stop a flotilla of activists attempting to deliver aid to Gaza in spite of Israel's blockade May 30, 2010 in Haifa, Israel
Israeli Navy sailors embark on a warship in order to stop a flotilla of activists attempting to deliver aid to Gaza in spite of Israel's blockade May 30, 2010 in Haifa, Israel
Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate a day before the expected arrival of a flotilla of hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists carrying 10,000 tons of supplies into the Gaza Strip, in Paris, Friday May 28, 2010
Palestinian members of the Hamas naval police and civilian defense officers ride a boat at Gaza port during a display of their preparations ahead of the expected arrival of a flotilla of hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists trying to sail into the Gaza Strip, in Gaza city, Friday, May 28

The Irish campaigners aboard a humanitarian aid ship headed for Gaza have vowed to keep going towards an almost certain confrontation with the Israeli military.

The crew of the Irish vessel Rachel Corrie — which includes Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire — last night said they are “very determined to keep going” as they edged closer to Gaza at the end of a three-week journey to deliver aid supplies.

The defiant crew are sailing into the controversial waters following the deadly storming of an aid flotilla by Israeli commandos on Monday.

Confusion emerged yesterday when a board member from the Free Gaza Movement, which is associated with the ship's campaign, said the boat would be turned back and docked to fit surveillance equipment.

However, former UN assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, who is on the vessel, said they are “well on their way to Gaza” and would continue.

Last night the Rachel Corrie was about 250 miles off the coast of Gaza.

It was expected to reach the normal point of interception with Israeli forces, some 100 miles off the coast in international waters, this afternoon.

The Rachel Corrie is carrying 1,000 tonnes of cement, educational materials, toys and medical equipment. On board the 1,200- tonne vessel are 19 people — five Irish and six Malaysian, along with a crew of eight.

Married couple Jenny and Derek Graham are on board, along with Mr Halliday and filmmaker Fiona Thompson from Dundalk.

Yesterday Mr Halliday said their aim was not to provoke but to get the aid to Gaza.

“We are calling on the UN to inspect the cargo and escort us into Gaza and to send a UN representative to sail on board before they enter the exclusion zone,” he said.

However, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel would not allow its Gaza blockade to be breached. “No ship will reach Gaza. The Rachel Corrie will not reach Gaza,” he told Israel Radio.

Intensive talks are taking place between Irish government officials and the Israeli authorities.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is seeking assurances that the Rachel Corrie will be allowed through to Gaza unimpeded.

But no verbal or written assurances have yet been provided to the Irish government that would guarantee the ship would not be attacked or forced to land at an Israeli port.

Campaigner Shane Dillon, who was the first of the Irish activists from the attacked flotilla to return home, yesterday appeared before the Oireachtas committee on foreign affairs. He said those on board the flotilla had not physically resisted Israeli troops.

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