BBC News – 2010-06-06 01:42:28
A group of activists detained for trying to sail an aid ship to Gaza in defiance of Israel’s blockade will be deported soon, Israeli officials say.
The 11 campaigners and eight crew have signed deportation papers and most will be flown out on Sunday, Israel’s interior ministry said.
Security forces boarded the Irish-owned ship, MV Rachel Corrie, on Saturday.
The action came days after Israeli forces killed nine activists who were also attempting to break the blockade.
Israel has faced an international outcry over the incident, which has also soured relations with Turkey because most of the dead were Turkish.
But Israel has repeatedly defended its actions, saying its commandos acted in self defence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hailed the peaceful outcome of the latest operation.
He described those on board the Rachel Corrie as “peace activists,” but labeled the other vessel a “ship of hate organized by violent Turkish terror extremists.”
The Cyprus-based Free Gaza Movement, which organised the attempts to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza, vowed that further aid shipments would be sent.
There were six Malaysian campaigners and five Irish aboard the Rachel Corrie, named after a US college student who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza in 2003.
Interior ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said most of the crew and campaigners would be flown out on Sunday; the rest would leave the country over land to Jordan.
The 1,200 tonne cargo ship was boarded about 16 nautical miles (30km) off the Israeli coast.
The ship was carrying hundreds of tonnes of aid, including wheelchairs, medical supplies and cement.
Israel says it will check the shipment and transfer all of the aid it deems acceptable into the Gaza Strip.
Israel came under fierce criticism after its troops shot dead nine people during a violent confrontation with those on board the Turkish Mavi Marmara in the early hours of Monday.
On Saturday Turkish officials released details of autopsies carried out on the nine dead activists, saying a total of 30 bullets had been found in their bodies.
One of the activists was shot four times in the head, the officials said.
The BBC’s Jonathan Head in Istanbul says some of the details seem to contradict the Israeli assertion that their commandos used minimum lethal force.
Israel has blockaded Gaza since 2007, when the Islamist Hamas movement took control of the territory, and says its policies will not change while Hamas remains in power.
MV Rachel Corrie
â€¢ Irish-owned, 1,200-tonne cargo ship
â€¢ Named after US student killed by Israeli army bulldozer as she protested over Gaza house demolitions in 2003
On board: Five Irish and six Malaysian activists, plus crew
â€¢ Carrying aid, including wheelchairs, paper, medical supplies and cement
This is the website of the Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group that in August 2008 sent the first international boats to land in the port of Gaza in 41 years. We want to break the siege of Gaza.
We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation.
What Is Not Allowed
Richard Tillinghast / The Irish Times
No tinned meat is allowed, no tomato paste,â€¨
no clothing, no shoes, no notebooks.â€¨
These will be stored in our warehouses at Kerem Shalomâ€¨
until further notice.â€¨
Bananas, apples, and persimmons are allowed into Gaza,â€¨
peaches and dates, and now macaroniâ€¨
(after the American Senator’s visit).â€¨
These are vital for daily sustenance.
But no apricots, no plums, no grapes,
no avocados, no jam.â€¨
These are luxuries and are not allowed.â€¨
Paper for textbooks is not allowed.â€¨
The terrorists could use it to print seditious material.â€¨
And why do you need textbooksâ€¨now that your schools are rubble?â€¨
No steel is allowed, no building supplies, no plastic pipe.â€¨
These the terrorists could use to launch rocketsâ€¨against us.
Pumpkins and carrots you may have,
but no delicacies,â€¨no cherries, no pomegranates,
no watermelon, no onions,â€¨no chocolate.â€¨
We have a list of three dozen items that are allowed,â€¨
but we are not obliged to disclose its contents.â€¨
This is the decision arrived atâ€¨by Colonel Levi,
Colonel Rosenzweig, and Colonel Segal.â€¨â€¨
“No prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis.”â€¨
You may fish in the Mediterranean,â€¨
but only as far as three km from shore.â€¨
Beyond that and we open fire.â€¨
It is a great pity the waters are polluted â€¨
twenty million gallons of raw sewage dumped into the sea every dayâ€¨is the figure given.â€¨â€¨
Our rockets struck the sewage treatments plants,â€¨
and at this point spare parts to repair them are not allowed.â€¨
As long as Hamas threatens us,â€¨no cement is allowed,
no glass, no medical equipment.â€¨
We are watching you from our pilotless dronesâ€¨
as you cook your sparse meals over open firesâ€¨
and bed downâ€¨in the ruins of houses destroyed by tank shells.â€¨â€¨
And if your children canâ€™t sleep,â€¨
missing the ones who were killed in our incursion,â€¨
or cry out in the night, or wet their bedsâ€¨in your makeshift refugee tents,â€¨
feeling pain in their amputated limbs â€“â€¨
thatâ€™s the price you pay for harbouring terrorists.â€¨â€¨
God gave us this land.
A land without a people for a people without a land.â€¨
Richard Tillinghast is an American poet who lives in Co Tipperary. He is the author of eight books of poetry, the latest of which is Selected Poems (Dedalus Press, 2010), as well as several works of non-fiction.