MV Rachel Corrie Boarded By IDF, Diverted To Ashdod, No One Hurt
Last Night I provided minute by minute updates, and live coverage of the MV Rachel Corrie's voyage. She was expected to make it to Gaza by 10:00 AM local time, But she was still underway at 11:50 AM when the crew agreed to let the ship be boarded.
I reported live last night:
11:55 AM: Sad news everybody, It appears that MV Rachel Corrie has been seized by the IDF and is being towed into Ashdod. Thankfully all on board are safe and sound, but regretably they are probably going to be arrested like those onboard MV Mavi Marmara and the other five ships.
12:45 PM: Jerusalem Post confirms, the Rachel Corrie has been boarded. IDFSpokesperson@twitter confirms also, "The crew of the Rachel Corrie has permitted IDF soldiers to board", "IDF soldiers boarded the Rachel Corrie with permission by sea, no helicopters used", "The Rachel Corrie will be brought to the Ashdod Port where goods will be inspected + transferred to Gaza via land xings" and an Israeli official has now admitted on Al Jazeera English that the Rachel Corrie is under the control of the IDF.
12:50 PM: Apparently an agreement was reached, the crew of the Rachel Corrie agreed to be towed into Ashdod on the conditions that the cargo would be inspected by UN officials in Ashdod and would be escorted in its entirety to Gaza, with two MV Rachel Corrie crewman, Irish and UN officials. Hopefully the IDF will live up to their end of the bargain. source: Al Jazeera English
This morning the Jersusalem Post was the first to confirm the story:
At about 5:50 am on Saturday, the first reports came in over Twitter that the 'Rachel Corrie' had been boarded close to Gaza. Earlier the activists reported that their radar had been jammed, however their Twitter accounts continued to operate.
The activists reported that three boats were following them for about twenty minutes and then that they had been boarded.
The passengers are said to be under arrest.
A couple of hours before the ship was seized, a Malaysian NGO which was co-sponsoring the ship, "Perdana Global Peace Organization" stated on its website that the ship's passengers had agreed to let an international force search the ship, before it proceeded to Gaza. The statement said that, while the activists rejected Israel's right to blockade Gaza, the activists "request and invite for an independent international body, preferably inspectors from the the United Nations to board the ship and do the necessary to certify as to the nature of the cargo on board."
The Malaysian NGO described the ship as a joint Irish-Malaysian effort. The organization's website describes its mission as to "oppose war and champion peace and global understanding.
Before the ship made its offer, Irish Foreign Minister, Dr. Michael Martin reached an agreement with Israel, whereby the Rachel Corrie would proceed to Ashdod where its contents would be checked, unloaded and then shipped to Gaza under observation of representatives of the activists, the UN and the Irish government. The activists rejected this offer, insisting on breaking the Israeli blockade. They did however give assurances that they would not resist the IDF, should it decide to board the ship. The White House later expressed support for the agreement and called on the ship to dock at Ashdod.
MV Rachel Corrie was boarded without incident, after her crew agreed conditionally to let Israeli Forces board. The conditions were that the aid in its entirety would be taken to gaza after inspection in Ashdod by UN officials,and escorted into Gaza by UN and Irish officials, and two of the ships crew members. No word yet on whether the IDF has kept their word.
But, thankfully all aboard the MV Rachel Corrie are safe and unharmed. I am happy to report that a peaceful end, which guarantees delivery of all the aid on board has come about.
Update: Israel is now claiming that the Rachel Corrie declined the offer, the crew was arrested and the IDF will be picking what aid makes in into Gaza, Despite the fact that all their early reports and video releases show that the crew agreed to the terms. It appears either the IDF lied originally or they are lieing now. The latter more likely.