NOW IN OUR 10TH YEAR!
The ship, named after 23-year-old U.S. peace activist Rachel Corrie -- who was crushed to death in 2003 by an
American-built bulldozer operated by the Israeli army -- has been
pleading with the international community to pressure Israel into
leaving them alone.
The Irish government, for its part, has threatened Israel with "the most serious consequences" if any Irish
national, captured or currently aborad an aid vessel, is harmed.
"If any harm comes to any of our citizens, it will have the most serious
consequences," Taoiseach Brian Cowen said, according
to The Irish Times.
"Taoiseach" is the position bestowed upon the individual who leads Ireland's government.
The MV Rachel Corrie is reportedly due to arrive in Gaza tomorrow, according to the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Irish officials
have demanded Israel let the boat pass unimpeded. Ireland has long
opposed Israel's military blockade of Palestine.
"The government has formally requested the Israeli government to allow the Irish-owned
ship to be allowed to complete its journey unimpeded and discharge its
humanitarian cargo in Gaza," Cowen said.
"The Rachel Corrie is carrying medical equipment, wheelchairs, school supplies and cement, a
material Israel has banned in Hamas-ruled Gaza, organizers said," the
Seattle Post-Globe reported.
Five Irish activists and five Malaysian activists were said to be aboard.
"In the names of our friends, we are more determined than ever to continue into Gaza with our
humanitarian cargo and our support for the blockaded and suffering
people of Gaza," read a message sent on behalf of the activists, published
by Global Research. "We expect Israel to respond to the
international condemnation of its violence by not impeding by any means
the safe passage of the Rachel Corrie. We appeal to the international
community and United Nations to continue to demand Israel our safe
passage into Gaza."
Activist group Jewish Voice for Peace declared in an e-mail to supporters, "We still don't know the names of those who
were killed or injured, or where they are from. And we don't know the
whereabouts or well-being of more than 400 activists still being held by
Israel." The group demanded Israel release the activists without
condition or charge.
The activists' call echoed another from NATO, which demanded the prisoners' freedom and pressed the
need for a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation"
into the events.
In response to the activist killings, Egypt announced it would open a portion of border crossing into Palestine to
allow in future shipments of humanitarian supplies. Turkey, reportedly
the country of origin for some of the May 31st raid's victims, pledged
it would send a military escort with future Gaza aid boats.
Israel claims the killings were the result of a "provocation" by activists who
attacked the soldiers as they landed. However, journalists who were on
board the vessel during the raid reported
civilian casualties first, before they confirmed soldiers had
landed, indicating that Israeli forces began their bombardment before
boarding the ship.
By Tuesday, the United States had not condemned Israel for taking action against a ship in international waters,
instead calling for an investigation to learn the facts of what
happened. Instead, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stuck to the
language of a UN Security Council statement issued late Sunday on the
Israeli assault on a convoy headed to Gaza.
The statement condemns "those acts which resulted in the loss of at least ten civilians and
many wounded," but did not specifically say whether the Israeli raid or
actions of pro-Palestinians supporters caused the violence.
"Let me simply restate what the international community and the United States
supported early this morning at the UN Security Council through a
presidential statement," Gibbs said.
"The Security Council statement that I read calls for an investigation that is prompt,
impartial, credible and transparent, conforming to international
standards, of exactly what happened," Gibbs said. "And we're obviously
supportive of that."