Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Egyptian Navy Averts Isaeli Attach on Gaza Relief Ship, the Spirit of Rachel Corrie

By Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

The Spirit of Rachel Corrie (officially known as FINCH) carrying a humanitarian cargo to Gaza was attacked by an Israeli naval patrol within the so-called Palestinian Security Zone on May 15, at 10.54pm EDT.
In the course of the last few hours, Global Research has communicated several times with the Rachel Corrie vessel en route to Gaza. What is provided below is a detailed update. An earlier article was posted at 12.30am EDT  
The vessel left the Greek Port of Piraeus, on Wednesday, May 11. The humanitarian initiative is sponsored by the Perdana Global Peace Foundation (PGPF), chaired by the former Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad.

Participating in this mission are anti-war activists and journalists, consisting of 7 Malaysians, 2 Irish, 2 Indians and 1 Canadian. The Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) is a partner in this endeavor. Global Research`s Julie Lévesque is on board the Rachel Corrie:
The cargo ship The Spirit of Rachel Corrie (officially known as FINCH) is carrying 7.5 kilometers of UPVC (plastic) sewage pipes to help restore the devastated sewerage system in Gaza. The ship was named after the courageous American activist who was crushed and killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003 while trying to prevent the demolition of another Palestinian home. She died at 23. ( Perdana's Second Press Release, Nakba and the Spirit of Rachel Corrie: Humanitarian Ship Attacked by Israel now within 1.5 nautical miles of Gazan Waters  Global Research, May 16, 2011)
The Spirit of Rachel Corrie entered Gazan waters without being detected.
The Israeli navy with its radar equipment and advanced communications technology was unaware of the Spirit of Rachel Corrie Mission.

They were unprepared.  They had received no prior information of the Rachel Corrie Mission, which had been planned for several months, scheduled to arrive off the coast of Gaza on the day of the "Nakba" commemoration. 
Ironically, Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency was unaware of this mission. The Israeli navy vessels acted in an improvised fashion, without prior knowledge or intelligence. There was no indication that they had received precise instructions from the Israeli government.
At the time of the attack, the passengers on board were under the impression that the ship was still in international waters, when in fact is was one mile inside the "Palestinian Security zone", namely in Gaza territorial waters, within a short distance of the Gaza coastline. This was an important accomplishment. 
Indicated below is the initial report sent to Global Research by text message:
At 10.54 pm Eastern Time (EDT), the Spirit of Rachel Corrie was intercepted by an Israeli ship and a Egyptian ship in international waters [correction: within Gaza Territorial waters]
10:54pm EDT, Gaza 5:54am: We have been intercepted by Israeli ship and Egyptian ship. We are disobeying the orders and sailing ahead to Gaza.
10:57pm EDT, Gaza 5:57am: One Israeli warship coming to us very fast! We are in international waters, therefore they have no right to attack us. We are still sailing ahead.
10:59pm EDT, Gaza 5:59am: They are opening fire across our ship! We are still sailing ahead.
11:09pm EDT, Gaza 6:09am: They are shooting all over the place. We can't continue ...
11:35pm EDT, Gaza 6:35am: They circled our ship twice and fired across our ship. Machine guns. No one was injured. One of the fishing nets caught the propeller, so we can't move now.
11:37pm EDT, Gaza 6:37am: The Israeli ship was coming from one end and the Egyptian ship was coming from another end. Firing. We are just stalled now. Everybody is okay. No one is injured.
Two Israeli naval vessels initially launched a "warning attack" on the Rachel Corrie, indicating that if the ship did not change course, they would shoot at the crew and the passengers. One of the passengers was almost killed as a result of the attacks. (See Bernama, May 16, 2011)
The following exchange took place between the Israeli navy and the ship as reported by the Free Malaysia Today journalist on board the Spirit of Rachel Corrie:
"Israeli army: This is a warning shot. Turn around.
Captain Jalil Mansor: We are unarmed civilians on a humanitarian mission to Gaza.

Israeli army:
This is a closed military zone. It’s a violation. Turn around.
Mansor: We will continue (the mission).
The Israelis then headed to the back of the aid vessel and released a second warning shot into the air.
Graham: This is a violation (of international law). We are on a peaceful mission and unarmed.
Israeli army: Turn around. We will fire again.

You are firing towards unarmed civilians.
Israeli army: We didn’t fire towards unarmed civilians.
Graham: Looks like firing towards us.
Israeli army: We didn’t fire towards you. That is only a warning shot.
Following that conversation, the Israeli army fired two more shots and threatened: “Next time, we will land on your ship.”
Then the Egyptian navy was heard telling the Israelis on the radio: “Stop firing. They are in Egyptian waters.”
Upon realising the presence of Egyptian naval forces, the Israelis departed." (Free Malaysia Today, May 16, 2011)
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