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New flotilla aims to sail to Gaza from Lebanon. MV Rachel Corrie activists expelled from Israel

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On board the MV Rachel Corrie before it left Dundalk in Ireland in May.

EST 6:45 p.m.

Reporters without Bounds and the Free Palestine movement have launched the Naji Al Ali Flotilla for journalists, which will sail with humanitarian aid from Lebanon in "the upcoming week."

The ship aims to transfer 50 journalists and 25 foreign activists to Gaza and is looking for aid donations.

More to come...

EST 6:15 p.m.

The nineteen people on board the MV Rachel Corrie, crew and activists, are expected to be deported via Ben Gurion Airport, following this seizure of the Free Gaza aid ship this morning.

Ireland's national broadcaster RTE says they were taken from the detention centre at Holon directly to the airport, and all signed a form waiving their rights to appeal the deportations.

The Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said it was no known for certain if anyone was injured, but believed them to be unharmed. The organization said the Israeli forces defied a call from the Irish government to allow the ship to reach Gaza.

EST 8:40 a.m.

Protests against the attack on Monday's flotilla, the seizure of the Rachel Corrie and calling for an end to the siege of Gaza are happening around the world. To find details of local rallies in Canada and around the world, click here.

IDF releases photos of its approach to the Rachel Corrie.

Audio of Novel Laureate Mairead Maguire is available from moments before communication cut off earlier today. It was recorded in an interview for Jewish Voices for Peace. 

Current status of the Rachel Corrie remains that it was boarded by the IDF and forced to dock Ashod, Israel.  It is not clear whether the activist on board will be arrested by Israel or not. Reports are that activists did not resist Israel's illegal seizure of the ship.  No contact yet with members of the crew, but IDF spokespeople have issued statements and are speaking to major media outlets.

Passengers aboard the Rachel Corrie include:
Ahmed Faizal bin Azumu, human rights worker, Malaysia
Matthias Chang, attorney, author & human rights worker, Malaysia
Derek Graham, Free Gaza Ireland
Jenny Graham, Free Gaza Ireland
Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General, Ireland
Mohd Jufri Bin Mohd Judin, journalist, Malaysia
Shamsul Akmar Musa Kamal, PGPO representative, Malaysia
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Ireland
Abdul Halim Bin Mohamed, journalist, Malaysia
Fiona Thompson, film-maker, Ireland
The Hon. Mohd Nizar Zakaria, Parit Member of Parliament, Malaysia

EST 4 a.m.

Conflicting reports about whether the Rachel Corrie was boarded or not.  According to freegaza.org, an Israeli military spokesman said they "hope not to be forced to use violence." 

The Rachel Corrie crew and activists remain defiant and have not responded to three calls by the Israelis and orders to follow them to the Israeli port of Ashod. 

Lt.-Col. Avital Liebovich of the IDF told the BBC: "If they don't comply, we will have to board the ship."

EST 2:50 a.m.

The Perdana Global Peace Organisation, a Malaysian non-governmental organisation which funded the MV Rachel Corrie, says the Irish ship is under the control of the Israeli navy, but conflicting reports remain.

EST 2:15 a.m.

Israel says it stopped the MV Rachel Corrie in international waters shortly after 2 a.m. EST. It has not elaborated as to how the ship was stopped.

The 1,200 ton cargo ship is carrying medical equipment, wheelchairs, school supplies and cement, a material Israel has banned in Hamas-ruled Gaza, organizers said.

For more information click here for Free Gaza and here for Twitter updates.

1 a.m. EST:

Activists say the Malaysian-funded, Irish aid ship The MV Rachel Corrie, is currently being tailed. The Israel navy began to shadow the vessel around 5:30 a.m. local time.

Reports that it had been boarded are incorrect at this stage. The ship was intercepted 55 kilometres from Gaza, and has had its radar jammed. The Israelis are calling on it to divert to Ashdod, near Gaza, activists on board the boat said Saturday morning.

Around midnight EST, Britain's SKY news said they had spoken to the activists on board, who said they were continuing to Gaza, as planned. Two warships were following the ship, activists said.

Later reports, from Witness Gaza say communication from the ship had ceased.

The ship is carrying 11 activists from Ireland and Malaysia, including Mairead Maguire, a Nobel Peace laureate, Denis Halliday, an Irish former senior official at the United Nations, and eight crew members.

The Rachel Corrie is funded by Perdana Global Peace Organisation, a Malaysian non-governmental organisation headed by Mahathir Mohamad, the country's former prime minister.

Earlier Ireland's minister for foreign affairs, Micheál Martin, said the Irish government supported the ship being allowed to reach Gaza and unload its humanitarian cargo.

He told Irish national broadcaster RTE:

"If, as is their stated intention, the Israeli government intercepts the Rachel Corrie, the [Irish] government demands that it demonstrate every restraint.

"Those on board the Rachel Corrie have made clear their peaceful intentions and have stated that they will offer no resistance to Israeli forces.

"Based on these assurances, there can be no justification for the use of force against any person on board the Rachel Corrie."

Its attempt comes less than a week after nine Turkish peace activists were shot dead by IDF navy commandos as they stormed The Free Gaza flotilla lead ship the Mavi Marmara.


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