The Irish-owned MV Rachel Corrie may sail from the southern Israeli port of Ashdod within weeks after Irish activists who last month attempted to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza onboard the vessel were told it was ready to be released.
The news comes as Irish and other activists plan a similar effort to breach the blockade in the next months.
The Rachel Corrie has remained in Ashdod since early June, following its interception by Israeli forces in international waters off the coast of Gaza. The activists onboard were transporting humanitarian aid to the territory.
The Rachel Corrie was the last remaining vessel of an international aid flotilla attempting to breach the blockade. Nine Turkish activists were killed on one of the boats during a raid by Israeli commandos the previous week.
The 11 activists on board the Rachel Corrie included former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday, Nobel laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Dundalk film-maker Fiona Thompson, and first mate Derek Graham and his wife Jenny, both from Mayo.
They were joined by several members of the Malaysia-based Perdana Global Peace Organisation.
Earlier this month Mr Graham, his wife and Denis Halliday attended a conference in Kuala Lumpur hosted by the organisation, which was chaired by former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Mr Graham said that it was agreed at the gathering that the organisation would “work closely” with the Irish activists with a view to organising similar attempts to break the Gaza blockade in the future.
More than 100 people attended a public meeting in Belfast on Thursday night [July 8] to hear first hand accounts of the recent deadly Israeli raid on the international aid flotilla bound for the besieged Gaza Strip.
Donegal man Fiachra O Luain, who was on board the Challenger 1 ship, gave an account of the lead up to the assault and the surviving activists’ ensuing captivity and eventual deportation.
Ken O’Keefe, a former US Marine who subsequently renounced his US citizenship and who now holds joint Irish-Palestinian nationality, gave an account of his experiences on board the Marvi Marmara, the ship on which nine activists were murdered by Israeli commandos. O’Keefe, who disarmed two of the commandos who boarded the ship, also stressed the importance of pressing on with the campaign to break the blockade.