Tuesday, May 24, 2011

'Spirit of Rachel Corrie' bound for Gaza

Malaysian humanitarian aid ship MV Finch left Egyptian waters on Monday after spending seven days at the waiting area off El-Arish Port.

Source: Press TV

A Malaysian aid ship, The Spirit of Rachel Corrie (officially known as MV Finch) is making a second attempt to break the deadly Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip after being stranded in Egyptian waters for a week.

The MV Finch, which carries humanitarian aid, was attacked by Israeli naval forces last Monday when the vessel was about 400 meters (yards) from Gaza and was forced into Egyptian waters.

Activists on board the ship say since being forced into Egyptian waters, Egyptian authorities have prevented the ship from docking at El Arish port.

"We have pulled our anchor and are now en route to Gaza. We had given the Egyptian authorities an ultimatum to let us dock by 2:00pm (1200 GMT) or we would set sail for Gaza but they did not respond," Matthias Chang, who is heading the mission for the Perdana Global Peace Foundation, told AFP by phone from the MV Finch

"We are now on the way to Gaza, and will face whatever the consequences," Chang said. "We are almost out of food and water and have been stuck on this ship since last Monday, we have no choice".

The activists also accused Cairo of collaborating with Tel Aviv to prevent aid ships from reaching Gaza.

"The Egyptian Navy is forcing us out of their territorial waters and has asked us to go to international waters. One Egyptian patrol boat is coming very fast from behind with a gun pointing at us. Everyone is calm and steady. We are okay," activist said.

The MV Finch, which left Greece on May 11, is carrying plastic pipes to help restore the sewage system in the tiny Palestinian territory.

Perdana Global Peace Foundation, headed by former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad, was also involved in the 2010 Freedom Flotilla trying to breach an Israeli naval blockade on Gaza, which ended in disaster after Israeli commandos attacked the aid flotilla, killing at least nine Turkish activists on board the Mavi Marmara, one of the ships in the flotilla.

Gaza has been under an all-out land, aerial and naval Israeli blockade since 2007, when Hamas, the democratically elected ruler of Gaza, took control of the coastal sliver.

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