Crew on board Rachel Corrie
Photo: AFP

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

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs announced Friday that it had reached an agreement with the Israeli government on the 'Rachel Corrie', by which it would dock at Ashdod and submit the aid it was carrying to inspection, but that the ship's crew had refused.


The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement it believed this would be the best way to convey humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip in the future as well, until the lifting of the siege.


"The Government has made clear that it believes that the Rachel Corrie should be allowed to proceed to Gaza and to unload its humanitarian cargo. Those on board the Rachel Corrie have indicated that they are ready to accept inspection of their cargo at sea, prior to docking in Gaza," the statement said.


"However, the Israeli government has stated that it is not willing to allow any breach of their naval blockade of Gaza."  

The Irish 'Rachel Corrie' (Photo: AFP)


The statement said the Irish government was concerned for the wellbeing of the crew. "We are also conscious of the urgent need to address the humanitarian concerns of the people of Gaza," he said.


According to the agreement reached between the two states, the Rachel Corrie would dock at Ashdod port, where its cargo would be inspected under the supervision of UN officials.


Then the supplies, which reportedly include 550 tons of cement, would be transported to Gaza through the Erez crossing. Two crew members would accompany the transport until that point.


"This proposal was put to those on board the Rachel Corrie who, on Friday afternoon, after careful consideration and having thanked the government for its efforts, declined to accept it. I fully respect their right to do so and to continue their protest action by seeking to sail to Gaza," the department said.


Therefore it asked that Israeli soldiers exercise restraint if they board the ship. "Those on board the Rachel Corrie have made clear their peaceful intentions and have stated that they will offer no resistance to Israeli forces. Based on these assurances, there can be no justification for the use of force against any person on board the Rachel Corrie," it said.


Israel: No interest in confrontation

Earlier Friday Israel said it had "no interest in confronting" the crew of the Rachel Corrie and asked its members to sail directly to Ashdod port. The activists on board, for their part, announced repeatedly that they would not do so.


"We have no interest in boarding the ship. If it sails directly to the Ashdod port, we will secure its crew and refrain from boarding it. Israel is prepared to receive the ship and unload its cargo. After it is checked to make sure it contains no weapons we will be prepared to transfer all of the goods to Gaza," said Foreign Ministry Director-General Yossi Gal.


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.


פרסום ראשון: 06.04.10, 22:08
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