by Stephen Webster
June 2, 2010
Reportedly due to land on
Wednesday, Ireland's chief political leader offers stern warning to
Irish humanitarian aid ship the MV Rachel Corrie
is still sailing for Gaza, in spite of Israel's recent, devastating attack
on other vessels in the Gaza aid flotilla, resulting in at least nine dead
activists and hundreds of prisoners.
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 abroad 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.
is the position bestowed upon the individual who leads Ireland's government.
The MV Rachel Corrie is reportedly due to arrive in Gaza on Wednesday,
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
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
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,"
"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."