The last ship in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the MV Rachel Corrie, was captured by the Israeli navy early Saturday morning in international waters about 35 miles off the coast of Gaza. The ship was in sight of the crowd of desperate Gazans who had gathered on the port to welcome its arrival when the Israeli navy boarded the ship, took it over, and brought it to the port of Isdud (Ashdod) in Israel.The MV Rachel Corrie set sail from Ireland a few days later than the other six ships in the flotilla, which were violently attacked by Israeli forces last Monday, who killed 9 and wounded 60 aid workers. No injuries were reported in the forced takeover of the MV Rachel Corrie, although there is still no word from the 11 captured aid workers as to their status.
Although the Israeli government announced to the media that the ship’s cargo of aid would be inspected and then passed on to Gaza, the government did not publicize the fact that it would not admit to Gaza any items on the list of banned items – which includes over 90% of the cargo of the ship. Israeli forces, which control the borders to the Gaza Strip (along with their ally Egypt in the south), have banned cement, medical equipment, crayons, paper, school supplies – in short, virtually every item brought by the MV Rachel Corrie will be considered a security risk and denied entry into Gaza.
The ship was a joint effort by Irish peace activists and the people of Malaysia, who raised the money and support for the ship to join the aid convoy to break the siege on Gaza. The MV Rachel Corrie was named after the American peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by Israeli forces in 2003, who ran her over with an armored bulldozer while she stood in front of a Palestinian home to protect it from demolition. She was 23 when she was killed.