The Irish cargo ship “Rachel Corrie” is still sailing toward Gaza and is expected to arrive off the coast of the occupied territory Saturday morning, organizers said.
The ship is sailing in international waters fewer than 150 miles from Gaza and “on her way,” the organizers of the pro—Palestinian Free Gaza movement said in statement from Larnaca, Cyprus.
They added, however, that communication with the “Rachel Corrie” was difficult as it had only one satellite telephone on board which was only intermittently reachable.
A second confrontation with Israel was expected, as the around 20 activists on board, including Irish Nobel peace prize laureate Mairead Maguire and former US assistant secretary—general Denis Halliday, rejected Israeli calls to dock in the southern Israeli port of Ashdod rather than once again trying to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.
“All of us on our boats unequivocally state that we will never go into any Israeli port, except by force,” Mary Hughes, a spokeswoman for Free Gaza, told the German Press—Agency dpa.
Several high—profile Malaysian activists, including a lawmaker, a three—member camera crew from Malaysia TV3 and a journalist, are also on board.
The ship is carrying 1,200 tons of aid, including 560 tons of cement, 100 tons of medical equipment among them CAT scanners, a dental office and 200 electric and regular wheelchairs, as well as papers, sports gear and crayons for children.
Greta Berlin, a co—founder of the pro—Palestinian, international Free Gaza organization, denied early morning reports that the ship had changed course and was heading back to Ireland.
She said one of the passengers on board had been misquoted in a radio interview.
“It’s on its way. It’s ready. The people on board are getting tired. We want to get in,” Ms. Berlin told dpa.
“We want to unload our cargo,” she added, after the ship had cruised for days in the Mediterranean without heading full steam toward Gaza, in the aftermath of Israel’s forceful interception of six earlier ships on Monday.