New Ship Heads to Gaza, and Israel Vows to Stop It

ISTANBUL (AP) — A cargo ship trying to break the blockade of Gaza could reach Israel’s 20-mile (32-kilometer) exclusion zone by Friday afternoon, an activist said, and Israel’s prime minister has vowed the ship will not reach land.

Their dueling comments suggest a potential new clash over Israel’s three-year-old blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip — and come only four days after an Israeli commando raid on a larger aid flotilla left nine activists dead.

Greta Berlin, a spokesman for the Free Gaza group, says the 1,200-ton Rachel Corrie is heading directly to Gaza and will not stop in any port on the way. It is trying to deliver hundreds of tons of aid including wheelchairs, medical supplies and concrete.

The Irish vessel is named after an American college student crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while protesting house demolitions in Gaza.

Israel will not allow the aid ship to reach Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told senior Cabinet ministers late Thursday. According to a participant in the meeting, he said Israel made several offers to direct the ship to an Israeli port, where the aid supplies would be unloaded, inspected and transferred to Gaza overland, but the offers were rejected.

Netanyahu has ordered his military to prevent the ship from reaching Gaza, but he also instructed them to act with sensitivity and avoid harm to those on board the ship, the participant said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed.

In Istanbul, Turkey’s deputy prime minister said Friday that economic and defense cooperation with Israel will be reduced amid tensions after the killing of nine Turkish activists by Israeli commandos on an aid ship.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said all deals with Israel are being evaluated.

”We are serious on this issue. New cooperation will not start and relations with Israel will be reduced,” he said.

The deaths on the aid ship increased tensions in the Mideast, especially with Turkey, an important ally of Israel. On Thursday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel’s actions ”a historic mistake.”

Israel maintains the commandos opened fire as a last resort after they were attacked, and released a video showing soldiers in riot gear descending from a helicopter into a crowd of men with clubs. Three or four activists overpowered each soldier as he landed.

Returning activists admitted fighting with the Israelis but insisted their actions were in self defense because the ships were being boarded in international waters by a military force.

Israel has rejected demands for an international panel to investigate the incident and Netanyahu has hotly rejected calls to lift the blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza, insisting it prevents missile attacks on Israel.

Thousands jammed Istanbul on Thursday to pay tribute to those killed on the ship at a funeral service outside the Fatih mosque, and larger services were expected on Friday.

The youngest of the nine activists killed, Furkan Dogan, was to be buried Friday in his family’s hometown in Kayseri in central Turkey.

Dogan, who was born in Troy, New York, moved to Turkey when he was two. The other eight activists were all Turkish nationals.

Turkey sent two ambulance planes to Israel to bring home the last five Turkish activists who were wounded in the Israeli commando raid.

[original]

spotted by RS

2 comments

  1. We should send the US Navy Seals’ Snipers along with the Turkish warships who are supposed to be escorting the MV Rachel Corrie, laden with aid for Gaza! President Obama sent them to protect the Captain and Crew of the Maersk Alabama, laden with aid for Mombassa, Kenya, that was raided by pirates in international waters. Oh we were so proud of the captain and the crew of that aid ship! They opened up a can of whoop ass on those raiders! The pirates were surprised by the crew that fought back! They’d never had that happen before. We were so proud of our people for fighting back! The Somali pirates were only punished with bullets between the eyeballs by our HEROIC NAVY SEALS but, as a nation, we wished there was more we could have done to them.

    Before and after that cordial meeting between pirates and the provocating aid ship, the pirates WARNED what they’d do if folks kept going into those (international) waters. (guns, blood, violence, death – that sort of thing)

    We answered before and after the terrorist attack on the dear, innocent pirates by the bad bad bad crew of the Maersk Alabama that we’d go anywhere we damned well pleased in international waters AND the MISSION of carrying AID to needy nations was worth the risks.

    We also said, in the future, ships’ crews could carry guns to protect themselves and/or we’d send the Navy along to – –

    hmmm to what? oh –

    to protect innocent, pirates who board aid ships in international waters who might be confronted by knife, pipe, or AK47 wielding crews or passengers on aid ships. Yes that’s what we meant, didn’t we.

    Furkan Dogan, Americans didn’t know you before you were killed but you will always be remembered. Rest in peace beside our Beloved Rachel Corrie – Two Heroic, Forever Young, Fellow Americans.

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