Nobel laureate: ‘We will sit down,’ if Israeli forces board aid ship

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, June 4, 2010 12:10 EDT
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An Irish aid boat steaming towards Gaza still plans to break the Israeli blockade, a Nobel Peace Prize winners who is on board vowed today, saying its passengers and crew “are not afraid”.

However, “Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Máiread Corrigan-Maguire, who was on the ship with other activists, said they were determined to press on but would offer no resistance if Israeli forces came aboard,” the Associated Press reports.

“We will sit down,” she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the ship. “They will probably arrest us … But there will be no resistance.”

The MV Rachel Corrie should be within 40 kilometres of the coast of the Palestinian territory by early tomorrow,Máiread Corrigan-Maguire told Ireland’s RTE state radio.

“We don’t have contact with the Israelis and the Israelis haven’t contacted anyone on board this boat, but we are all fully committed to sailing the boat to Gaza,” she said by satellite phone.

“We do know that one of the suggestions that seems to be coming is Israel thinks that we would take this boat and its cargo to Ashdod. But we have no intention of going to Ashdod which is in Israel.

“We started out to deliver this cargo to the people of Gaza and to break the siege of Gaza, that is what we want to do.”

Maguire said they would regard as “satisfactory” suggestions that the vessel is checked by the UN or an independent investigator to verify there is no dangerous cargo abroad.

“But we are not prepared to allow Israel to do this. Our cargo was inspected by officials from the Irish government, by trade union officials in Dundalk (a port in NE Ireland) and officials of the Green Party.

“Then the cargo was sealed, totally sealed. We don’t have anything but humanitarian aid,” she added, saying the 11 activists on board were “totally committed” to going to Gaza.

“We are not afraid,” she said.

Maguire, 66, believes the 1.5 million people of Gaza, with 30% under the age of 18, have been living under a “cruel siege”.

“It is collective punishment by the Israelis government. It is breaking international laws and human rights. Our concern is to try to open up the people of Gaza to the world,” she said.

Maguire, who won the 1976 Nobel prize as co-founder of a peace movement in long-troubled Northern Ireland, has travelled many times to the Palestinian territories, said the Irish group.

(with additional reporting by Raw Story)

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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