Israel seized another vessel that was going to break through the blockade of the Gaza Strip. This time there was no blood. The Irish Rachel Corrie cargo ship was conveyed to the port of Ashdod without any incident and upon the consent of the crew.
All 19 passengers and the crew of the ship have already agreed for the voluntary deportation from Israel. The crew are the citizens of Ireland, Indonesia, Malaysia and one Cuban. They intended to deliver about 1,000 tons of humanitarian cargo to Gaza.
The situation was at first developing similarly to what happened with the Turkish Marmara ferry boat at the end of May. Israeli military men offered the crew of the Rachel Corrie to change their route and proceed to the port of Ashdod. The Rachel Corrie continued to navigate to Gaza’s shoreline. Israeli commandoes landed on board the Irish vessel, but met no resistance at all.
In the meantime, volunteers in Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and other countries still wish to participate in another large-scale action to reach Gaza. Anti-Israeli demonstrations continue in Europe, local pro-Palestinian organizations promise to arrange Freedom Flotilla-2 that will be twice as large as the first one.
Lebanese and Saudi mass media outlets say that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally promised to break through the blockade. He reportedly stated in his recent public speech that he would be ready to board a Turkish boat to travel to Gaza. The Turkish authorities do not confirm this information officially, though.
In the meantime, Turkish medics removed 30 bullets from the bodies of nine passengers killed in the attack on the Marmara boat. Experts said that the victims had been shot four or five times point blank, presumably in the head. The Turkish PM stated that it was the first time in the nation’s contemporary history when its citizens died from the bullets of foreign soldiers.
The Turkish government wants Israel to publicly apologize for the attack on the Mavi Marmara boat. If Israel prefers not to, Turkey will cut military and trade cooperation with the country, officials of the Turkish foreign affairs ministry said.
A high-ranking official at the Israeli administration has already said that Israel will not apologize to Turkey. He said that Israel asked Turkey to send the boat to Ashdod from where the humanitarian cargo would then be delivered to Gaza under the patronage of the Red Cross or the Red Crescent. Turkey ignored the offer, the official said.
Jerusalem is certain that Israel has done everything possible to avoid the battle at sea. However, the Freedom Flotilla violated the nation’s sovereignty. Israeli Foreign Secretary Avigdor Lieberman equated Turkey to Iran – the nation that originally positioned itself as Israel’s friend.