Final Update: MV Rachel Corrie was seized by the Israeli Navy as it neared the coast of Gaza. Rather than addressing the ship by it’s official title, Israeli forces communicating with the ship called it Linda, the ship’s previous name. Those on board the ship called on the UN to search the cargo at sea in order to clarify to the public that no arms or weapons of any kind were present among the material aid.
The crew aboard Rachel Corrie reportedly rejected at least three or four warnings by the Israeli military to dock at an Israeli port. The crew stated that the mission was to break the siege but that there would also be no resistance to any Israeli invasion of the ship. Within 30 nautical miles of the Gaza Strip’s coast, Israeli combat units boarded the ship and redirected Rachel Corrie to Israel’s Ashdod port. Involving no less than 20 soldiers and two naval gunships, the interception of the ship resulted in the arrest of all 11 activists and eight crew members. Israel’s IDF forces confirmed that none of the individuals resisted arrest. The Israeli government has stated that all 19 individuals will be deported by Monday, June 7. Seven individuals have already left through the West Bank. However, two activists are currently still in detention.
The Israeli military offered to deliver the aid through land crossings. However, the aid would have to be screened, meaning that banned material, such as concrete and toys, would most likely be eliminated from the load of deliverable aid.
Meanwhile, Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement made it clear that efforts to break the siege would not cease until Israel lifts the blockade. At least four more ships sponsored by the organization are currently being prepared for another attempt at reaching the shores of Gaza.
Less than 25 miles away from the coast of Gaza, the MV Rachel Corrie rejected a fourth request by the Israeli Navy to redirect and head towards an Israeli port in Ashdod. Originally part of the Freedom Flotilla attacked by Israel less than a week ago, the Irish vessel has reportedly been seized by Israeli naval units. Haaretz as well as Ashdod’s Channel 2 have already published news reports about the seizure of the ship. According to the Free Gaza Movement, the activists aboard the ship are all safe. There have been no reports of resistance by the activists.
Israeli gunships had already surrounded the ship hours in advance to prevent it from reaching the Gaza Strip.
Gazans can still see Rachel Corrie in the distance.