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June 2, 2010

MV Rachel Corrie continues en route to Gaza

* MV Rachel Corrie continues en route to Gaza as all-party motion Dail motion calls for its safe passage

* Two Irish deported, three remain in detention, including one wounded

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Press Release – 1st June 2010, 3pm

Yesterday’s Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in which up to 19 human rights activists were murdered in international waters has not deterred the Irish cargo ship the M.V. Rachel Corrie which is currently en route to Gaza and hopes to arrive this Saturday. Meanwhile the fall-out from the attack has pressured Egypt into opening the Rafah Crossing.

In the Dail, an all party motion which calls upon the government to ensure the safe passage of the MV Rachel Corrie and calls for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted is expected to be passed at around 7pm this evening. The IPSC welcomes this motion and hopes the Israeli government will heed it.

The Rachel Corrie was slightly behind the rest of the flotilla due to having to dock in Malta to undergo some engine repairs. The crew and passengers – which include 5 Irish people – made the decision to continue their journey to deliver supplies and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza despite further threats from the Israeli military. The Irish on board are Denis Halliday, Mariead Maguire, Fiona Hamilton, Derek and Jenny Graham (bios below).

Speaking in support of the mission, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) spokesperson Freda Hughes said: “We commend this brave direct action taken by international activists, an action who’s significance has increased exponentially in both humanitarian and political terms since Israel committed yet another act of state terrorism by murdering 19 passengers on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and hijacking their aid flotilla, “

Ms Hughes continued: “The IPSC has been in contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs urging them to take all measures necessary to ensure that Israel does not attack this ship and that it lets them bring their independently checked humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. The government of Ireland has a clear duty to protect Irish citizens, uphold international law and help bring an end to the siege of Gaza. We welcome the the all-party Dail motion calling for the Rachel Corrie’s safe passge.”

Meanwhile, Shane Dillion, the kidnapped first mate of the Challenger II is on his way home after being deported from Israel. He will arrive in Ireland later today, but his family are asking that the media do not go to the airport. According to family, he will hopefully be available for media interviews sometime tomorrow. Isam Bin Ali, a Libyan-Irish citizen is also due to be deported.

Al Mahdi Al Harati, a wounded Libyan-Irish citizen remains in Israeli detention, as do Dr Fintan Lane of the IPSC and Fiachra O Luain.

Mr Al Harati’s wife Eftaima Al Najar today said: “I lost all contact with my husband four days ago and have been telling my four that he is on holiday. I have just got news that he is in an Israeli detention centre but have no news on if and when he will be released. We are of course, all extremely worried.”

The Irish Ambassador to Israel was due to meet with all the detainees this afternoon.

Speaking yesterday, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Michael Martin, said: “These people did not enter Israel illegally. They were essentially kidnapped from international waters, taken into Israel. And now they are being asked to sign a document almost confirming that they entered illegally. And we think that is unacceptable”.

Last night over 3,000 people attended a demonstration in Dublin against the unprovoked attacks by Israel where they heard from speakers Jack O’Connor (ICTU President), Aengus O Snodaigh TD, Chris Andrews TD, Senator Mark Daly, Lord Mayor of Dublin Emer Costello, Dr David Landy and Freda Hughes of the IPSC.

Addressing the rally at the Spire, Ms Hughes took Israel to task for its portrayal of events: “For the Israel PR machine to now attempt to brand a humanitarian mission to Gaza as an act of provocative violence is abhorrent. The irony is that for the Israeli state to sanction and carry out the murder of 19 international aid activists in international waters itself constitutes an act of state terrorism. This is not a conflict of equals and we must not believe the Israeli propaganda that would have us believe that the unarmed civilians on the Flotilla set out with the aim of attacking the fourth biggest military power in the world, namely Israel.”

Over the past two days there have been protests around the country in Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Sligo, Kilkenny and Galway and further protests will occur over the coming days in Dublin, Wexford, New Ross, Kilkenny and Castlebar.

Bios for Irish on Board Rachel Corrie

Mairead Maguire (66) [Belfast, Ireland]

A Nobel Peace Laureate (l976) and Co-founder of Peace People, Northern Ireland, She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace and a nonviolent solution to the Ethnic/political conflict in Northern Ireland. Mairead has travelled many times to the occupied territories of Palestine to support the nonviolent peoples’ movement for Human Rights, International Law, and Self Determination of the Palestinian people. Maguire was shot with a plastic bullet whilst participating with Palestinians/Israelis/Internationals in a peaceful protest March to the Wall in Bilin, in April, 2007. Mairead went on the maiden Voyage of Dignity in October, 2008, the second successful voyage for the Free Gaza Movement. She was also on Board ‘Spirit’ when Israel hijacked the Boat in International Waters, taking all 2l humanitarian passengers to Israel, where they were arrested, detained for a week in an Israeli prison and then deported.

Denis Halliday [Manhattan, NYC and Connemara, Ireland]

UN Assistant Secretary-General from 1994-98. Appointed by SG Boutros Ghali, he served as ASG UN Human Resources Management in New York and in mid 1997 to end 1998 as Head, Humanitarian Programme in Iraq to support the Iraqi people struggling under the genocidal impact of UN Sanctions. Prior to that, as a development manager, Halliday served UNDP from 1964-94 in Iran, New York Hqts, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Samoa, New York again and finally as head of the UNDP Regional Office in Thailand. Since resigning from the UN in 1998, Halliday has delivered numerous parliamentary briefings, provided extensive media inputs and has given public/university lectures on Iraq, human rights, and the UN, in particular its reform. He was a visiting professor at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and teaches/speaks at universities in Ireland, Canada, UK and USA. Halliday is a graduate of TCD, has an honorary PhD, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was awarded the UK Gandhi Peace Prize.

Derek Graham [Ballina, County Mayo]

Derek has been a qualified electrician for 20 years. He was a member of the reserve defence forces in Ireland for 21 years and was the first member of the reserves to make the Army sailing team. He has been sailing all of his life and is a crew member on the MV Rachel Corrie. He has participated in many previous Free Gaza boat trips to Gaza and has been on four of the five voyages that landed in Gaza. He is married to Jenny, who is also on the MV Rachel Corrie.

Jenny Graham [County Mayo]

A member of the Free Gaza Movement, Jenny has participated in previous boat trips to Gaza and is a member of the crew of the MV Rachel Corrie. She is married to Derek Graham.

Fiona Thompson [ Dundalk] Film maker



Family Members and MV Rachel Corrie passengers

Eftaima Al Najar (wife of Al Mahdi Al Harati): 087 9703605
Jim Lane (father of Fintan Lane): 087 2872374 / 021 4962993
Elanor Lamb (mother of Fiachra O Luain): 089 4185445
Denis Halliday (on board teh MV Rachel Corrie): 085 215 9477
Mairead Maguire (on board the MV Rachel Corrie): 0044 7736147713

IPSC Contacts

IPSC Office: 01 6770253
Freda Hughes (IPSC): 086 1260359
Kevin Squires (IPSC): 087 7413580
John Dorman (IPSC): 087 2208560
Mark McDonnell (IPSC): 086 841 6297

Ambassador Edward Peck

ABC’s Lisa Chinn reports:

Ambassador Edward Peck, 80 years old, and the former Chief of Mission in Baghdad decided to take the trip to Gaza because they were trying to get materials to “Gazans need and are denied.” Peck, who returned from his mission by way of Israel – who ‘deported’ him remains “disappointed that Israel” chose to respond the way it has to what he calls a humanitarian mission.


Peck, a retired career diplomat and no stranger to controversy these past few years – he was a bold and loud opponent to Bush Administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, maintains that the bulk of material that was being brought to Gaza was “hospital equipment, building materials, and prefabricated housing.”

Peck saw no serious violence when the Israelis boarded the ship, and in fact, slept through most of it, saying it occurred in the early morning hours, around 4 a.m, and that by the time he got above board, the siege, which was peaceful, was over.

“I jumped out of bed fully clothed because there are no facilities on the ship. No shower, no wash, no nothin’ and went upstairs and there I encountered a group of Israeli commandos who said, ‘sit down,’ we heard that a lot, ‘sit down.’ They were by that time in control of the ship and fine. You know, they didn’t harm anybody after that. They harmed some folks in getting on board as people tried to block them from taking over. “

The ship he was on was far from the main, larger ship that may have seen the most violent action. Peck said they had been told Israelis might attempt to block the flotilla, and that those aboard his smaller ship had discussed in advance how they would handle such an event. After being taken, they were “incommunicado” in the words of Peck, and were unaware of what had happened to others in the flotilla. Peck said he had “concern that it might have been much rougher on some of the other ships. It was. People were tasered. People were shot. You know, people died on some of the other ships because they resisted. We didn’t . We had already talked amongst ourselves as to what we were going to do. I got there too late to lock arms around the wheelhouse because it was all over by that time.”

Ambassador Peck, who was deported from Israel and flown into the U.S. this morning, returning to his Chevy Chase, MD home the way so many Washingtonians do after a long flight – by Metro. Peck returned with only the clothes on his back and the hat on his head, and his take on being ‘deported’ from Israel is bit humorous, given the difficulties he experienced, telling ABC NEWS that the Israelis told him, “You’ve broken Israeli law, I said ‘which one?’ They said you have entered the country illegally. I said I’m sorry. But if I’m brought into the country under armed escort that is not entering the country illegally. Forcibly. We’ll they don’t agree with that. I was deported so I suppose that goes on my record. “

For his part, Peck believes this will be a “major political flap” for Israel and that “bad things have happened, are happening and will happen as long as what’s going on in Palestine and what isn’t going on in Palestine continues, that’s a dead end street, as several of Israel’s leaders have said.”

June 1, 2010 | Permalink | Share | User Comments (25)

2 videos

Rachel Corrie

Following Israel’s criminal raid in international waters on May 31st, the Rachel Corrie MV continues to sail towards the Gaza coastline in defiance of Israeli threats.

In an act of tremendous courage, the Rachel Corrie MV is determined to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

At noon today, I received the following message from Christopher Chang and Ram Kardigasu, on behalf of the Malaysian and Irish peace activists, who are on board the Rachel Corrie:

RACHEL CORRIE: MV Rachel Corrie is now the sole ship on the international freedom flotilla moving towards Gaza.

The Malaysian and Irish peace and humanitarian activists aboard share their deepest grief and sense of lost with the loved ones of those killed and injured in the illegal action undertaken by Israel on Monday 31st May 2010 in the international waters of the Mediterranean.

In the names of our friends, we are more determined than ever to continue into Gaza with our humanitarian cargo and our support for the blockaded and suffering people of Gaza.

We expect Israel to respond to the international condemnation of its violence by not impeding by any means the safe passage of the Rachel Corrie.

We appeal to the international community and United Nations to continue to demand Israel our safe passage into Gaza.

Jointly issued by Malaysians and Irish on board the Rachel Corrie.

Sent on behalf of the humanitarian activists on aboard the Rachel Corrie – by PGPO land team (Ram Karthigasu and Christopher Chang)

In recent developments, the Netanyahu government is in crisis:

“Senior ministers [of the Netanyahu cabinet] have been sharply critical of the fact that the decision to seize control of the flotilla to Gaza was made after two meetings of the forum of seven senior ministers but without official deliberation by the inner cabinet, the body that has the authority to approve military actions of this scale.” ( headlines RSS

What this suggests is that the actual decision to conduct the raids in international waters bypassed the Cabinet.

The question remains: if the Israeli cabinet did not ratify the operation, who ordered the raids and through what procedure?

What were the respective roles of Israeli intelligence and the IDF in planning these raids?

What role was played by Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, who had meetings with both Netanyahu and president Shimon Peres, respectively on May 26 and 27?

Did Rahm Emmanuel meet officials of Israel’s military and intelligence establishment?

Did the Obama administration give the Green Light?

It is important that this news gets out, with a view to ensuring that the Rachel Corrie MV safely reaches the coast of Gaza without encroachment, with a view to breaking Israel’s criminal embargo.

In this endeavor we shall prevail. Our hearts and minds are with those who continue to sail on board the Rachel Corrie MV.

It should be noted that Israel has not in any way modified its policy with regard to the Rachel Corrie MV: There are two more ships heading for Gaza including the Rachel Corrie MV. Israel has promised “to respond even more harshly”:

“Israel will use more aggressive force in the future to prevent ships from breaking the sea blockade on the Gaza Strip, a top Navy commander told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

“We boarded the ship and were attacked as if it was a war,” the officer said. “That will mean that we will have to come prepared in the future as if it was a war.” (

The Rachel Corrie MV is in part supported by the Perdana Global Peace Organization under the helm of Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

Global Research Director Michel Chossudovsky is a member of the Perdana Global Peace Organisation and of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission.

Global Research Articles by Michel Chossudovsky

Rachel Corrie to Gaza

who will protect the Rachel Corrie?

As I write the Rachel Corrie, a 1200-ton cargo ship, delayed due to mechanical problems, is steaming towards Gaza. As I understand it they will pick up one or two of the ships that the IDF sabotaged en route. The passengers–a list of them is available here, and they include a number of extremely powerful Malaysian politicians–decided to continue on to Gaza. Amazing. Other reports suggest that the organizers may delay the ships’ arrival into Gaza until the beginning of next week. Or the ships’ attempt to arrive. Matan Vilnai, the Nazi who called for a Shoah to befall Gaza (hashoah is Hebrew for the Holocaust; shoah is just destruction), said on public radio that “We will not let any ships reach Gaza and supply what has become a terrorist base threatening the heart of Israel.” Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has promised to escort the next maritime convoys with Turkish warships. Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has demanded that the Israelis let the Rachel Corrie in. This set-piece battle is not over yet. And the role we on the outside will play–most importantly, in publicly mobilizing, secondarily, in disseminating information, and thirdly, creating a climate of opinion in which Israeli politicians and generals decide that it’s better to let the ship in that not let it in–is not over yet either. Israel has lost this battle, and we’ve won it. But we won the first half on their terms. Let’s win the second half on ours. An anonymous Israeli marine lieutenant told Israel’s army radio that his unit was prepared to block the Rachel Corrie. “We as a unit are studying, and we will carry out professional investigations to reach conclusions,” the lieutenant said, referring to yesterday’s massacre. “And we will also be ready for the Rachel Corrie ,”

from jewbonic

Greek cargo crew beaten

A note from dear friend Sana Kassem

Today morning the 6 crew members of the Greek cargo ship arrived to Athens..they were deported..They have seen the Israeli soldiers beating up brutally four of our comrades in Ashdod (Jelle you remember Vangelis, he was beaten the most but also Yannis the film producer that you talked to him about our videos), when one of them refused to leave the ship they used electric guns and pulled him, another one was shot in the leg)..Now we received a msg from a friend she is still detained in Ashdod and thinks the other Greeks are taken to Jails..Knowing them they will refuse to sign any paper for their release..
Yesterday we had a protest at the Isreali embassy (Jelle I told you 2000) newspapers are talking about 10,000, 5 minutes after the beginning of the protest the police rained us with tear gases, the brutality of the Greek police was unprecedented (ta gourounia = the pigs). A big demonstration is planned for thursday at the ministry of foreign affairs: we want our people back..

Ireland : Government officially condemns Israeli raid on aid ships

Tuesday, June 01, 2010 – 03:38 PM

The Government has officialy moved to condemn the Israeli assault yesterday on aid ships bound for Gaza during which nine people were killed.

Five Irish passport holders remain in a detention centre in Israel after their vessels were seized by commandos in international waters.

Its still not known if any received injuries during the incident.

Backed by the Government, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin today issued a series of demands, which included the immediate and unconditional release of the Irish citizens.

The Minister’s proposals included:

* Condemn the actions by the Israeli military as completely unacceptable and disproportionate and stemming directly from the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza which the Minister and Government has repeatedly urged should be ended;

* Call for a full, independent and international enquiry into yesterday’s events, preferably under UN auspices;

* Call for the immediate and unconditional release of all the Irish citizens detained by Israel and for the Israeli government to respect its international obligations under the Vienna Convention and ensure full consular access by Irish Embassy officials to those detained;

* Call upon the Israeli government to allow the Irish owned vessel, the MV Rachel Corrie, to complete its humanitarian voyage to Gaza peacefully and without any attempt to impede its journey and to be allowed discharge its humanitarian cargo in Gaza upon arrival;

* Express its deep condolences to the Turkish government and to the families of all those killed in yesterday’s events as well as to those injured.

“The Government agreed fully with these points,” said the statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“It also agreed that the Minister for Foreign Affairs should continue to liaise closely with EU colleagues on the current situation and all necessary steps to achieve a peaceful resolution.”

The Legal Position on the Israeli attack

At the rally and march in Times Square yesterday, and also on many listservs, peace activists are referring to the Israeli attack as acts of “piracy”. Please take a careful look at the legal analysis written below by Craig Murray who was a speaker at the London demonstration.

Pirates are not commissioned by a state government, so the term should not be used in this instance. By sending state sanctioned commandos to illegally attack a Turkish ship in international waters, Israel has committed an act of war not piracy and this should be reflected in our signage:
The Legal Position
on the Israeli Attack

Craig Murray
May 31, 2010

I think that anybody with any fairness is bound to admit that the statement
William Hague came out with is much better than anything on Israel which
New Labour ever came out with, especially this bit:

“This news underlines the need to lift the restrictions on access to Gaza,
in line with UNSCR 1860. The closure is unacceptable and counter-
productive. There can be no better response from the international
community to this tragedy than to achieve urgently a durable resolution
to the Gaza crisis.

I call on the Government of Israel to open the crossings to allow
unfettered access for aid to Gaza, and address the serious concerns
about the deterioration in the humanitarian and economic situation and
about the effect on a generation of young Palestinians?.”

But as I told this afternoon’s tremendous spontaneous demonstration on
Whitehall, fine words are not enough and we must now see the kind of
sanctions regime we saw against apartheid South Africa.

A word on the legal position, which is very plain. To attack a foreign
flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli
vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare.

Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean however
that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite
plain that, when an incident takes place on a ship on the high seas (outside
anybody’s territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state
of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship
was Turkish territory.

There are therefore two clear legal possibilities.

Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the
government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is
in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international
jurisdiction as a war crime.

Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military
action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not
consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the
commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.

In brief, if Israel and Turkey are not at war, then it is Turkish law which is
applicable to what happened on the ship. It is for Turkey, not Israel, to carry
out any inquiry or investigation into events and to initiate any prosecutions.
Israel is obliged to hand over indicted personnel for prosecution.

Craig Murray is a human rights activist, writer, former British Ambassador,
one time Foreign Office specialist on maritime law and an Honorary Research
Fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law.

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