KUALA LUMPUR: The humanitarian aid ship Rachel Corrie, which has six Malaysians on board, is pressing ahead in rough seas to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
It is now about 300 miles from Gaza and the rough seas mean that it would be about 48 hours before it could reach Gaza, according to the the NGO Global Perdana Global Peace Organisation.
Sufi Yusoff, secretary to the NGO’s chairman Tun Mahathir Mohamad, said that he spoke to journalist Shamsul Akmar, who is on board the Rachel Corrie, at about 10am Tuesday on satellite phone and was told that the rough seas made it difficult to predict when they would reach Gaza. Sufi said that the small ship had a total of 19 people on board - six Malaysians, five Irish and eight crew.
“We would like to emphasise that this is a totally humanitarian exercise. There are no terrorist elements on board. The Israelis have no reason to attack this ship,” he said.
Aside from veteran journalist Shamsul, they are lawyer Matthias Chang, Parit MP Nizar Zakaria, activist Ahmad Faizal Azumu and TV3 crew members Halim Mohamed and Jufri Junid.
Among the Irish are Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and former UN Assistant Secretary-General Denis Halliday.
"These are hardly terrorist elements. The Israelis can have no excuse to raid the Rachel Corrie," Sufi said.
Early Monday, Israeli commados stormed the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship heading a flotilla of six aid ships heading for Gaza, saying that the ship carried passengers with terrorist links.
At least 10 people were killed in that raid, triggering international outrage and condemnation.
The Mavi Marmara was 65 km off Gaza in international waters. News reports say that all six ships in the flotilla are now in the Israeli port of Ashdod and the passengers and crew in custody.
The Rachel Corrie, an 1,200-ton Irish-owned cargo ship, is loaded with reconstruction, medical and educational supplies sponsored by the peoples of Malaysia, Ireland, Scotland, and Britain.
The vessel was to have been part of the flotilla but was initially delayed because of mechanical problems and only left Malta on May 30.
According to NGO Free Gaza, Israel has limited fuel to run the power station in the past three months and much of Gaza is often in darkness.
There are just enough trucks coming in to barely prevent total starvation, and Egypt, complicit with the Israeli-US policy of blockading Palestinians, is building an underground steel wall to prevent people in Gaza from bringing in vitally needed supplies through tunnels, it says.
About 1.5 million Palestinians were trapped in the ‘open-air prison’, it said.
Meanwhile, Tun Mahathir will be interviewed on Al Jazeera at 1pm.
tunku : don't be surprised if the god damn zionist commandos will say that those in rachel coorie are terrorists and carrying weapons.GOD DAMN THE ZIONIST.