Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Israeli warships have intercepted and are closely following the Rachel Corrie, a cargo ship carrying a load of 1200 tonnes of aid for the people of Gaza. The Tel Aviv Navy is determined to prevent the vessel from breaking the blockade, which has a small group of activists including a Nobel Prize Winner on board. The military does not exclude the possibility of a raid, which could cause a new bloodshed: 31 May last IDF soldiers attacked a group of Turkish vessels, causing dozens of deaths and raising an outcry from the international community.
On board the Irish-owned freighter, Rachel Corrie, there are currently about twenty people including activists and crew members. The ship is named after an American student, who died crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003 while protesting the demolition of several homes in the Gaza Strip. The latest sources reports that the boat is still in international waters, only a few dozen kilometres from the Palestinian territories.
The people on board the humanitarian ship claim to be prepared for a fight with the Tel Aviv military, and also added that they have no weapons. The Rachel Corrie has disobeyed the order given by the Israeli army, to dock at the port of Ashdod. Lieutenant Colonel Avital Liebovich confirmed to the BBC that "if they fail to carry out the docking order, we will board the ship." The Israeli government has also promised to deliver aid by land, after inspection of goods.
The radio contact with the vessel have been blocked and passengers can not communicate with the outside. The Rachel Corrie is the last cargo of the Freedom Flotilla determined to overcome the blockade, after Israel's raid of 31 May.
Washington and Ankara have intervened over the episode. The United States, while calling on activists to head towards the port of Ashdod, deemed the current blockade in Gaza "unsustainable", a blockade that in three years has starved nearly 1.5 million Gazans. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, is considering the use of the navy to break the siege on Gaza.
A survey published last June 2 by the newspaper Maariv Daily, on a sample of Israeli Jews, reveals that 94.8% of respondents agreed on the need to stop ships. However, 62.7% also stated that "it had to be done differently."