Irish aid boat heads for Gaza, crew ‘won’t resist arrest’
DUBLIN, Jun 03, 2010 (AFP) – An Irish aid boat is steaming towards Gaza where it hopes to deliver vital supplies at the weekend, but those on board will not resist arrest by Israeli forces, organizers said Thursday.
The MV Rachel Corrie — carrying 15 people including a Nobel Prize winner and a former top UN official — is some 450 miles (720 kilometres) from where six boats were boarded in a botched Israeli raid which left nine dead.
“It’s going about 200 miles a day,” said Kevin Squires of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC)
“So it’s expected to reach sometime on Saturday,” he told AFP, while adding: “I think they want to get there during the day, in daylight, so they might slow down or speed up, depending on when that would actually be.”
Asked how its passengers would respond if Israeli authorities try to stop or board the vessel, he added: “Their aim is to get to Gaza, but if the Israelis try to stop them they won’t resist.
“They’ll sit down and put their arms in the air… They can’t very well carry on through a blockade. They will sit down and be arrested,” he said.
Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has said that the Rachel Corrie must be allowed to reach Gaza and warned of “the most serious consequences” if Irish citizens were injured.
Five of those on board are Irish, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, 66, and ex-UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday. The others are five Malaysians, four Indonesians and a Scottish captain.
The boat is carrying some 750 tonnes of aid including medical and school supplies, toys, and cement, according to the vessel’s manifest, supplied by the organizers.
The cement — intended for reconstruction in Gaza, according to organizers — may prove problematic.
“The presence of cement on board the vessel is not regarded by the Israelis as a product that is simply humanitarian. We await to see what emerges from that definition,” the Irish premier said on Wednesday.