Activist ship heads to Gaza

2010-06-04 14:58

Jerusalem - The Rachel Corrie activist ship kept its course for a Saturday arrival in Gaza - or confrontation - as world anger simmered over Israel's deadly raid on an earlier blockade-busting bid.

"We are around 150 miles from Gaza, continuing at a steady pace, and hope to arrive on Saturday morning," Jenny Graham, one of the Irish activists aboard the vessel said, according to the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

"The Israelis have not been in contact with us. We remain as committed as ever to getting our 1 000 tons of aid and supplies to the people of Gaza."

The handful of Irish and Malaysian activists on board, among them Irish Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire, 66, were just hours away from the Palestinian enclave but were unlikely to run the Israeli gauntlet until daylight on Saturday.

Israel in a tight spot

Organisers had initially hoped to postpone the last leg of the voyage so the cargo ship could pick up high-profile personalities, including Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, and journalists.

But co-ordinators said they had been unable to relay the message to those on board in time.

"It's too far along now," said Mary Hughes Thompson, a spokesperson for the Free Gaza movement, which has been co-ordinating efforts to the crippling blockade Israel says aims at halting rocket fire from Hamas-ruled Gaza.

With Ireland's prime minister warning sternly that the ship must be allowed to reach Gaza, the activists have put Israel in a tight spot at a time when it already faces a serious diplomatic crisis over Monday's botched raid in which its commandos killed nine activists and wounded dozens more aboard a Gaza-bound flotilla.

The prime minister of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniya encouraged activists "to continue with these convoys in order to break the siege".

Thousands take to the streets


He spoke at weekly Friday prayers in Gaza City, flanked by Palestinian and Turkish flags.

Later, thousands of people took to the streets in central Gaza.

In Kuala Lumpur, some 5 000 people rallied outside the US embassy, burning Israel flags and brandishing posters proclaiming: "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 Jerusalem, police restricted access to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound and deployed in force in and around the Old City.

Angry protests have been staged across the Middle East and in other major cities since Monday's deadly raid, with demonstrators demanding an end to the Gaza blockade.

'Ties will never be the same'


A massive rally was held on Thursday in Turkey - a key Israeli ally - whose activists played a major role in the ill-fated six-ship flotilla.

President President Abdullah Gul warned that ties with Israel "will never be the same" after the attack, while Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said economic and defence ties will be slashed.

Turkey sent two medical planes to Israel on Friday to bring back five of its nationals wounded during the assault on the flotilla in which nine Turks were killed, including one who also holds US nationality.

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

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

Palestinian leader Mahmud 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.

Conflicting versions

The Israeli authorities and the activists had conflicting versions of what happened during Monday's pre-dawn raid.

Israel has said the commandos only opened fire after they came under attack with clubs, knives, guns and other weapons.

Bulent Yildirim, head of the Islamic charity Foundation of Humanitarian Relief, which spearheaded the Gaza aid fleet, said activists used iron bars in self-defence after Israeli soldiers fired indiscriminately when they stormed the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara.

Serbian cameraman Srdjan Stojiljkovic said gunshots were heard and people on the boat, who were unarmed, grabbed one of the soldiers, disarmed him and took him below the deck.

"People were falling down covered in blood, others were screaming as they were hit by bullets," said Stojiljkovic, adding that he had filmed the scenes, but that the Israelis "took everything but documents" from the detained activists and journalists.

Read more on:    gaza  |  israel  |  gaza ship raid  |  middle east peace
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
 

DA wants to empower fishing communities - Zille

DA leader Helen Zille says the party has a plan for harbours and small-scale fishing communities.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Somerset West - 08:57 AM
    Road name: N2 Outbound
    DELAYS through Somerset West due to high volumes
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9380

The first BlackBerry Curve smartphone with a touch screen Stay connected...

From R1799.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.