Israel warns Gaza-bound 'Rachel Corrie' to stop

Israel yesterday served notice that an Irish pro-Palestinian aid ship would not be allowed to fulfil its goal of reaching the Gaza coast this morning. The Rachel Corrie was last night pressing on towards the enclave, following the original flotilla that was halted by Israeli commandos at the cost of nine lives on Monday.

Israel issued a last-minute public appeal to the vessel, carrying 1,000 tons of aid supplies and 11 passengers, including the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, to dock instead at the Israeli port of Ashdod. "There is a maritime blockade on Gaza," Yossi Gal, the director general of the Foreign Ministry, told reporters here yesterday. Mr Gal said that if the ship wen to Ashdod it would not be boarded and the cargo would be transferred to Gaza once it had been inspected to ensure that there were no weapons on board.

But Ms Maguire made it clear yesterday that the ship would continue on its course, stressing that activists would not resist Israeli forces if they boarded.

She told The Independent yesterday afternoon: "We are 150 miles off the coast of Gaza, heading straight in the direction of Gaza and we hope to be there tomorrow morning by 9 o'clock. Everybody is fine and totally united in our desire to take the cargo boat to Gaza."

The Nobel Prize winner said the cargo had been inspected by officials in Ireland before it left and the hull had since been sealed. "We are carrying just humanitarian aid," Ms Maguire said. "We have said if someone from the UN wishes to come forward and inspect the cargo then we would be open to that, but we want then to sail forward into Gaza with our aid.

Israeli officials have indicated they are not expecting any repeat of the violence which erupted on the Turkish Mavi Marmara passenger ship on Monday when naval commandos opened fire, killing nine. Israel says they did so only after what they described as an onslaught by a hard core of extremists who attacked the troops with knives, metal rods and two pistols snatched from the commandos.

Violent attacks on the first troops to arrive on the upper deck are borne out on videos released by the Israeli military and Turkish TV. But IHH, the Turkish group which helped to fund and organise the flotilla, and was outlawed by Israel in 2008 for its alleged ties with Hamas, has denied that passengers fired on the commandos.

Yedhiot Ahronot, Israel's largest selling newspaper, reported yesterday that the Israeli military had also taken possession of footage showing peaceful activists trying to prevent violent fellow-passengers from attacking the soldiers. The paper said that one of the passengers, apparently an Arab, is seen holding a club and seeking to fend off the assault on the troops. An Israeli military spokesman could not confirm existence of the tapes yesterday.

The Rachel Corrie was supposed to be part of the orginal flotilla but had returned to Ireland a week ago after developing a propeller fault which the Free Gaza movement, one of the flotilla's organizers had suggested was the result of sabotage.

That possibility was reinforced this week when Colonel Itzik Turgeman, a senior IDF officer hinted to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs Committee that some of the vessels – though not the Mavi Marmara –had been tampered with to halt them far from the Gaza or Israeli coast.

But Israeli ministers have began considering steps to ease the three-year embargo on Gaza, which has aroused a new wave of international criticism in the wake of Monday's raid. Amid signs that US officials are becoming impatient with Israel's policy towards Gaza, President Barack Obama stressed his understanding of Israel's security concerns, but added: "On the other hand, you've got a blockage up that is preventing people in Palestinian Gaza from having job opportunities and being able to create businesses and engage in trade and have opportunity for the future."

He also predicted that Israel would agree to an "effective" investigation "of international standards". Although some ministers support an investigation, Defence Minister Ehud Barak has been resisting.

Israel's economic relationship with Turkey has been severely threatened. Taner Yildiz, Turkey's minister of energy and natural resources, has said there will be no new energy or water projects with Israel until relations between the two countries improve.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Java Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

SAP Functional Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £45,000 - £55,000.

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Functional ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn