MV Rachel Corrie due to reach Gaza within hours. “The world is watching” — Mustafa Barghouthi

The MV Rachel Corrie, a cargo ship in the Freedom Flotilla whose passage from Ireland was delayed by mechanical difficulties, is now hours away from its destination.

“I commend this courageous action of brave international civilians who are carrying essential medical, education and construction materials denied by Israeli suffocating and illegal siege on Gaza. It is vital that they have maximum support by the international community!” a Palestinian political leader, Dr Mustafa Barghouthi told Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire today. She and other activists on board the cargo ship carrying humanitarian aid from the Republic of Ireland to Gaza, said they hope to reach their destination by Saturday morning.

The world is watching,” said Dr Barghouthi, calling upon the international community to ensure the safe passage of the Rachel Corrie; he urged the EU representatives to take immediate and concrete steps in pressuring Israel to refrain from blocking the ship.

An appeal has gone out calling on Irish Americans to support the effort to end the siege of Gaza. Lorna Siggins, reporting from the Rachel Corrie for the Irish Times, writes:

Former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday has called on the [Irish] government to highlight the situation of the Gaza-bound Irish aid ship Rachel Corrie with US president Barack Obama’s administration and the EU.

Speaking by satellite phone on board the Rachel Corrie yesterday several hundred miles from Gaza, Mr Halliday said it was imperative that the Obama administration and the EU supported Ireland’s call on the Israeli authorities to ensure safe passage for the ship, which is carrying aid supplies.

“We feel that, like the UN, the EU has failed the Palestinians and we feel that the EU could exert more pressure in terms of trade links, which the Israelis are very dependent on,” he said.

Mr Halliday, a Connemara resident, confirmed that Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin had been in phone contact with the ship over the past two days .

“We are very grateful to the Minister, who has been completely supportive, but we need more,” Mr Halliday said.

“We also feel there is a role for the Irish diaspora here, in the US and elsewhere to lobby politicians over this continued illegal blockade of Gaza, which is causing such hardship to the Palestinian people.”

As Robert Naiman notes:

The issue of the Gaza blockade has tremendous resonance in Ireland, partly because of Ireland’s high degree of engagement in international humanitarian causes — John Ging, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, who had called on the international community to break the siege by sending ships loaded with aid, is also Irish — but also, of course, because the Irish people have some experience with the consequences for civilians of a colonial blockade.

Between 1845 and 1850, more than a million Irish people starved to death under British rule while, as Sinead O’Connor famously noted, food was shipped out of Ireland under armed guard. A million more fled Ireland to escape starvation, many to America, including Falmouth Kearney, President Obama’s great-great-great grandfather.

Many Irish people — and Irish-Americans — take the responsibilities of this legacy very seriously.

This is cross-posted at Woodward’s site, War in Context.

Posted in Gaza, Israel/Palestine

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  1. lysias says:

    Any word on the Turkish corvette that is said to be stationed off Gaza?

    • potsherd says:

      Said by whom?

      • lysias says:

        A commenter on a Hürriyet discussion board late last night said it was there.

      • lysias says:

        Here you go. The comment was on this Hürriyet thread, and was as follows:

        Guest – Yannis – Greece
        2010-06-03 19:18:49

        Right now a Turkish patrol ship (probably a corvette ) reached the international waters just off gaza. So there will be escalation since the Israelis are not joking either. Can a Turk please explain to me. Why is the Palestinian issue on top of your agenda? You are not arabs! You are also not fanatic Muslims either! I dont buy the whole Islamist thing about Erdogan. What game is being played here? If you become the protectors of Islam, does that mean that Iran is fair game to bomb? How far is turkey willing to go to defend Muslim nations?

        • lysias says:

          By the way, given “Yannis”‘s sentiments, I suspect he is not Greek, but Israeli.

        • kapok says:

          more than a whiff of hasbaritic non-sequiturs

        • potsherd says:

          The notion of the brotherhood of humanity doesn’t seem to occur to Yannis.

        • Rumpel says:

          He likely is Greek. The claim seems to have started with Stratfor here: link to stratfor.com

          ” June 2, 2010

          According to a STRATFOR source, only a Turkish patrol ship is circling the area near the Gaza coast, but is not entering Israeli territorial waters. There is no sign of readiness on the part of the Turkish navy to provide escorts to aid ships making their way to the Gaza coast. The source indicated that the patrol ship is only in observation mode for the time being.”

          and Yanni may well have read it here, judging by the Corvette description: link to defencenet.gr

        • Rumpel says:

          I should have added: the rather calculating solipsism is perfectly likely to just be Yanni wondering ‘but is this good for the Greeks?’

          If the Turkish rupture with Israel is permanent, then that presents a new, and not entirely advantageous security paradigm for Greece.

          Off-topic: sorry.

        • LeaNder says:

          simply crazy.

          I watched our Muslim community change and it’s prominent here in Cologne, or in the Rhineland (part of North-Rhine Westphalia) generally. What do you expect? If our mainly Turkish communities are challenged from the right AND prominently from some fellow German Jews, lately over if they should be able to move their mosque from their backyard meeting places, some of whom I wouldn’t have expected to come out with open racism in the context of a mosque that will be built here. Honestly, what do you expect? Obviously you politicize the community by the attacks.

          I had absolutely liberal Turkish friends and now watch their daughters tell me that when 7, they would start wearing a headscarf. Even kid have been drawn into this post 9/11.

          You have to remember that the anti-”Semitism”–basically someone oriental versus whomever with European heritage–coinage may have been used for Jewish Germans once, but if you look back over the last decades it were often Turkish homes that went up in fire over here in post-Nazi-land. Bush jun, hasn’t helped much, in fact he made things worse.

        • Dr Sabrosky also had some interesting things to say about getting NATO, as well as UN, more involved.

          link to salem-news.com

          invoke the “Uniting for Peace” Resolution in the UN General Assembly, which gives the UNGA the enforcement mechanisms available in other circumstances to the Security Council. My reading of the reaction to this incident is that at this time, there are more than enough votes in the UNGA to do this.

          Remember that a resolution designed by the US to circumvent Soviet intransigence and vetoes in the Security Council of its day, can and should with equal justice be directed against the US for the same reasons today on this issue. All countries would not take all of the actions enumerated above, but enough would take some of them to make life very interesting for Israel and its minions in the USG.

          Second, there is NATO itself. Turkey has said it would provide escort to future efforts at sending aid to Gaza, presumably on Turkish-flagged ships. It is a key regional player and has been a good ally for decades, and it should not be required to act alone on something that ought to have activated the collective defense provisions of the NATO treaty: between 9/11, used as a pretext for NATO to become engaged in Afghanistan, and the attack on the Turkish part of the Gaza aid flotilla, is a difference only of degree and not of kind.

          A NATO multinational naval presence off the Gaza coast is just what is needed for openers, and if it is supplemented by another under UN auspices, so much the better. Indeed, even a single warship from any other country joining even one from Turkey to escort the next ship through Israel’s illegal blockade would send a much-needed and long overdue signal neither Israel nor the USG could ignore. Israeli arrogance has given the world an opportunity to change things, if it dares — and perhaps it will.

        • LeaNder says:

          Bush jun, hasn’t helped much, in fact he made things worse.

          OK, this can easily be misunderstood. But I guess as everywhere in the world the attacks from the right long before Bush mainly targeted Turkish families along with immigrants. The height were the eighties and not a result of Bush’s jun. politics. Still his politics and his wars didn’t help much from a European perspective.

        • Citizen says:

          LeaNder, what is your sense of how most Germans feel/think about their own government’s handling if the I-P situation? And, what is your sense of the newer generation as to continued reparations to Israel? Does anyone ever speak out about how reparations are handled by Israel? Anyone ever suggest there should be an end to them some day? In the USA, we get no information about such matters.

  2. Citizen says:

    Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has said:
    The best possible commemoration of the men and women who died in that Famine, who were cast up on other shores because of it, is to take their dispossession into the present with us, to help others who now suffer in a similar way.
    That’s what Halliday is trying to do. Doesn’t he deserve all our support?
    UPDATE:: Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois [also Irish-American] writes:
    We could act to deter an Israeli attack upon MV Rachel Corrie by invoking International Criminal Court Prosecution. According to the ICC Rome Statute, Article 12 (2) provides “2. In the case of article 13, paragraph (a) or (c), the Court may exercise its jurisdiction if one or more of the following States are Parties to this Statute or have accepted the jurisdiction of the Court in accordance with paragraph 3: (a) The State on the territory of which the conduct in question occurred or, if the crime was committed on board a vessel or aircraft, the State of registration of that vessel or aircraft; … ” If one of the vessel is Irish vessel and the attack was committed against the vessel, the ICC may exercise its jurisdiction over this situation since the Ireland is a State Party to the ICC Statute. Israel’s attack may constitute a crime against humanity of murder, imprisonment, torture and other inhumane acts under Article 7 of the ICC Statute.
    Ireland is a party to the Rome Statute. Hence if Israel were to attack the MV Rachel Corrie, the highest level Israeli officials could be prosecuted for the attack. If we got this word out internationally, it might do some good.

  3. Citizen says:

    The above comment was from:
    link to portside.org

  4. Citizen says:

    To find the nearest protest today nearest you, go here:
    link to gazafreedommarch.org

  5. Keith says:

    I will be pleasantly surprised if the MV Rachel Corrie is allowed to succeed. The US/Israel response to the peace flotilla was so brazen, in-your-face that one can only conclude that US/Israel is sending a message. Massacring wedding parties in Afghanistan, massacring peace activists at sea, these two birds of a feather are transitioning from crypto fascism to overt fascism. The times are increasingly bleak.

    • eljay says:

      >> I will be pleasantly surprised if the MV Rachel Corrie is allowed to succeed.

      Israel needs some good PR right now, the kind that the MSM and pro-Israel types can use to justify their anti-Palestinian, anti-humanitarianism stands. If the Rachel Corrie is allowed to reach Gaza with minimal fuss – say, an appropriately-conducted boarding and inspection – this would “prove” all of Israel’s claims regarding – and “justify” all of its actions against – the previous flotilla.

      • sherbrsi says:

        eljay,

        The same reasoning was being used widely, and even here where people are skeptical of Israel’s noble intentions (to put it mildly), when the Gaza flotilla was on its journey.

        Now Israel is on record for saying it will use “more force next time.”

        • eljay says:

          >> Now Israel is on record for saying it will use “more force next time.”

          Not saying it won’t happen, but I just can’t understand the mindset that would make the gov’t and military want to blow a perfect opportunity to correct their recent error.

        • sherbrsi says:

          I just can’t understand the mindset that would make the gov’t and military want to blow a perfect opportunity to correct their recent error.

          You are thinking reasonably, the Israeli gov’t (esp. Netanyahu) doesn’t.

        • J Crow says:

          That’s my take.

          Also: The Israeli state may or may not calculate what happens if the IRA takes an active interest in Israeli property in the British Isles, and on the Continent.

          But they should.

        • droog says:

          One question would Israel get it worse or easier than Britain? easier maybe because they didn’t do the 800yrs of colonialisation, the Famine thing, etc.; or worse because the Imperial blowback/distance equations also apply to Israeli proper and its ‘worldwide assets’, the IRA has plenty of old contacts too .

        • J Crow says:

          droog,

          I honestly don’t know. I’m just musing “aloud.” I knew some guys in the late eighties/early nineties, who collected for the IRA, in and around Boston.

          They had a massive donor list and perhaps the world’s best samizdat, at the time.

          If the IRA (or worse, what’s left of the Provos) wanted to make the Israeli government regret sinking an Irish ship, or taking Irish persons captive, they could.

          And as was demonstrated for thirty years, the Brits can do eff all about it, especially operating on the Continent or in the States.

          I’m not endorsing that outcome, or even implying that it would necessarily come to that. But, were I in whatever planning committee mocking up outcomes, in Tel Aviv, I’d remember that the Irish play for keeps, have a deep and abiding culture which serves as a social bond across continents and oceans – and that there’s a whole lot more of them wandering the US than there are unfortunate Palestinians.

  6. lysias says:

    AFP says the organizers of the Gaza flotilla said a short time ago that they have lost contact with the Rachel Corrie: Contact with Gaza aid boat lost: Organisers blame sabotage as contact with Gaza-bound Rachel Corrie has been lost:

    Occupied Jerusalem: Organisers of the Gaza flotilla said they lost contact with the Gaza-bound MV Rachel Corrie on Friday just as they are seeking to delay the latest bid to bust the embargo with an aid-laden ship.

    The ship had been on course for arrival in the Palestinian enclave on Saturday, just five days after Israeli commandos killed nine activists aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in a botched raid that plunged Israel into a diplomatic crisis.

    “The situation is we lost all contact with the boat. We assume this was sabotage by the Israelis,” said Audrey Bomse of the Free Gaza Movement.

    It was now unclear whether the Irish and Malaysian activists aboard the ship would turn around or steam on towards the Hamas-run Gaza which is under a crippling blockade Israel says aims at halting Palestinian rocket fire.

    Monday’s raid sparked worldwide outrage with more massive protests expected on Friday, particularly after weekly prayers in Muslim countries.

    In Kuala Lumpur, some 5,000 Malaysians rallied outside the US embassy where the Israeli flag was burned.

    Some demonstrators burned the Israeli flag while others brandished posters that said “Destroy America, Destroy Israel – Long Live Islam” and “Allah will destroy you Israel”.

    Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah called for a mass rally in Beirut on Friday evening where he said he would announce “serious measures”.

    In Occupied Jerusalem, police restricted access to the flashpoint Al Aqsa mosque compound and deployed in force in and around the Old City.

    Angry anti-Israel protests have been staged across the Middle East and in major cities since Monday’s deadly raid, with vast crowds taking to the streets to demand an end to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

    A massive rally was staged on Thursday in Turkey – a key Israeli ally – whose activists played a major role in the six-ship flotilla and whose president warned that ties with Israel “will never be the same” after the attack.

    Turkey sent two medical planes to Israel early Friday to bring back five of its nationals wounded during the assault on the flotilla in which eight Turks and a US national of Turkish origin were killed, the Anatolia news agency said.

    Israel has warned it also will stop the blockade-busting bid by Rachel Corrie – a 1,200 tonne cargo ship named after a US activist killed in 2003 as she tried to prevent an Israeli bulldozer from razing a Palestinian home.

    “As a result of these threats, we’re going to pull Rachel Corrie into a port, add more high-profile people on board, and insist that journalists from around the world also come with us,” the Free Gaza movement said.

    But Bomse later said the decision couldn’t be communicated to those aboard the vessel, who include Irish Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire, 66.

    “We’re hoping communications get turned back on so we can inform them of the decision,” Bomse told AFP.

    On Thursday afternoon, organisers said the Rachel Corrie was about 250 miles (400 kilometres) from the spot in international waters the six boats were boarded on Monday.

    Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has said that the ship must be allowed to reach Gaza and warned of “the most serious consequences” if Irish citizens are injured.

    The US administration has so far refused to explicitly single out the Israeli government for blame.

    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will ask President Barack Obama to make “bold decisions” on Middle East peace when the two meet in Washington on Wednesday. He will first travel to Turkey to pay his condolences.

  7. I doubt the Israelis will let it get to Gaza.

  8. tangent to this important topic — Sinead O’Conor, with an insight into the Irish spirit (think, Never Again)

    (lyrics at the link) thought-provoking poetry on implications and consequences of destroying a people’s culture — any people’s.

  9. Obama’s comments on Larry King had puke appeal.

  10. Chu says:

    Just read witty’s blog, he’s apparently upset at the botched operation.

  11. Huwaida Arraf the chairwoman of the Free Gaza movement, who was on board the Gaza flotilla, beaten up, arrested and imprisoned has just been re-arrested in Bili’in.

  12. eljay says:

    >> Just read witty’s blog, he’s apparently upset at the botched operation.

    I wonder:
    - Is he upset that the operation was “botched” or that Israel has severly gone off the deep end with this violent act of piracy?
    - Is he upset at the reality of Israel’s behaviour, or only that this reality has resulted in “destabilizing” condemnations from various nations?
    - Is he upset that peaceful and well-intentioned activists were brutally slain and injured?

  13. seafoid says:

    It is wonderful that the ship is named Rachel Corrie. She will never be forgotten.

    Israel is onto a loser here. They can do whatever they want to the Rachel corrie (just like they did to the real Rachel) but they can’t stop the boats coming. As the great intellectual Mel Gibson character said in Braveheart, “you can take ma life but you cannae take ma FREEDOM. ”

    Israel has a lot of very valuable trade deals with the EU that are going to come into question if Israel keeps carrying on like this for much longer. Nobody in europe actually needs anything from Israel. It’s not like the produce is unique or irreplaceable.

  14. lysias says:

    Free Gaza in El País denies break in comms with MV Rachel Corrie:

    “Estamos a unos 200 kilómetros de Gaza” ["We're about 200 km. from Gaza"]:

    El barco irlandés Rachel Corrie está cada vez más cerca de su destino. Una de los veinte ocupantes del navío que formaba parte de la flotilla de la libertad ha asegurado por teléfono vía satélite a EL PAÍS que, poco después de las dos de la tarde, están a unas 115-120 millas (unos 220 kilómetros) de la costa. Jenny Graham, que pertenece al Free Gaza Movement y es una de los cinco activistas irlandeses que se encuentran en la embarcación, ha dicho que el barco sigue su singladura de momento sin problemas. Esta mañana desde su base en la isla de Chipre la organización había denunciado haber perdido el contacto radio con el Rachel Corrie.

    Grahan ha desmentido los rumores sobre una interrupción de la expedición por problemas técnicos y ha reiterado que todos los ocupantes del Rachel Corrie están determinados en llegar a Gaza, a pesar de la incertidumbre sobre la reacción de las autoridades israelíes. Pero lo harán probablemente a primeras horas del sábado y no hoy como había declarado anoche a EL PAÍS, el diplomático irlandés,Denis Halliday, también a bordo de la embarcación.

    So now they expect to arrive in Gaza early tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

  15. lysias says:

    New report from Ynet: Ireland: Rachel Corrie won’t dock at Ashdod: Dublin says reached deal with Israel by which aid ship would dock at Ashdod, but crew refused:

    An Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate on the ship, Mairead McGuire, said activists were determined to press on but would offer no resistance if Israeli forces came aboard.

    “We will sit down,” she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the ship. “They will probably arrest us … But there will be no resistance.”

    Maguire told Irish radio RTE that though the crew realized Israel wanted them to sail the Rachel Corrie to Ashdod, they had no intention of doing so. She said their aim was “to break the siege on Gaza” and that they were not afraid. She added that Israel had not contacted the ship.

    My guess would be that the Israelis will board the ship without resistance, inspect it, and then allow it to proceed to Gaza.

  16. Avi says:

    CNN International reports that there is a UN official on board the Rachel Corrie.

  17. Amar says:

    Juan Cole links to a Sydney Morning Herald interview with one of the released activists from the earlier flotilla. Not sure if he intended so, but unfortunately sounds somewhat corroborative with the Israeli version of events. He mentions an activist shot in the back of the head while assisting one of the injured, but still I dont like the way this interview sounds.

    link to smh.com.au

  18. Keith says:

    Over at the Counterpunch website, Rannie Amiri has a post titled “The Real Motive Behind the Gaza Flotilla Attack” that is well worth reading.
    http://www.counterpunch.org/amiri06042010.html

  19. snapblack says:

    Has anyone posted this video yet, of conditions aboard the Mavi Marmara AFTER the attack? link to worldbulletin.net …at a rough guess I’m counting more than fifty who appear wounded.

    New details on the extent and type of resistance encountered by the pirates: “al-Jazeera television cameraman Andre Abu Khalil, who was also on the Mavi Marmara, said that after the initial Israeli assault on the vessel, four Israeli troops, suffering from “fracture wounds,” were held below deck by the activists. He said other commandos, trying to scale the ship, opened fire to break up a human chain of about 20 Turkish men, who were using slingshots, water hoses and metal pipes to try to hold off the boarding party.

    Abu Khalil said the line disintegrated after the troops shot one of the men in the neck and another in the head. In all, the cameraman counted 40 wounded passengers, many with bullet wounds to the legs, apparently to disable them. Others were shot in the eyes, stomach and chest. On the lower deck, Abu Khalil said, someone using a loudspeaker told the Israelis: “Your soldiers are fine, and they’ll be released if you provide us with medical help for the wounded.” An Israeli-Arab legislator who participated in the flotilla acted as a mediator. She raised a white flag and wrote in Hebrew on a piece of cardboard, according to the cameraman.”l-Jazeera television cameraman Andre Abu Khalil, who was also on the Mavi Marmara, said that after the initial Israeli assault on the vessel, four Israeli troops, suffering from “fracture wounds,” were held below deck by the activists. He said other commandos, trying to scale the ship, opened fire to break up a human chain of about 20 Turkish men, who were using slingshots, water hoses and metal pipes to try to hold off the boarding party.

    Abu Khalil said the line disintegrated after the troops shot one of the men in the neck and another in the head. In all, the cameraman counted 40 wounded passengers, many with bullet wounds to the legs, apparently to disable them. Others were shot in the eyes, stomach and chest. On the lower deck, Abu Khalil said, someone using a loudspeaker told the Israelis: “Your soldiers are fine, and they’ll be released if you provide us with medical help for the wounded.” An Israeli-Arab legislator who participated in the flotilla acted as a mediator. She raised a white flag and wrote in Hebrew on a piece of cardboard, according to the cameraman.”l-Jazeera television cameraman Andre Abu Khalil, who was also on the Mavi Marmara, said that after the initial Israeli assault on the vessel, four Israeli troops, suffering from “fracture wounds,” were held below deck by the activists. He said other commandos, trying to scale the ship, opened fire to break up a human chain of about 20 Turkish men, who were using slingshots, water hoses and metal pipes to try to hold off the boarding party.

    Abu Khalil said the line disintegrated after the troops shot one of the men in the neck and another in the head. In all, the cameraman counted 40 wounded passengers, many with bullet wounds to the legs, apparently to disable them. Others were shot in the eyes, stomach and chest. On the lower deck, Abu Khalil said, someone using a loudspeaker told the Israelis: “Your soldiers are fine, and they’ll be released if you provide us with medical help for the wounded.” An Israeli-Arab legislator who participated in the flotilla acted as a mediator. She raised a white flag and wrote in Hebrew on a piece of cardboard, according to the cameraman.link to todayszaman.com

    so most of the actual dead may have been amongst the 20 resistors…but let’s not forget the reports of bodies[and wounded] thrown overboard. There are still people missing who were on that ship, according to returnees in Turkey. I get the impression that the ‘commandos’ must have snapped and totally lost it. So much for the quality of israeli military training