Saturday evening: MV Rachel Corrie docks in Ashdod

June 5, 2010…17:54

They waited until sundown.  But not until Shabbat was over.

Just before 6:00 p.m., the  MV Rachel Corrie finally was brought to Ashdod, after a full day of action and suspense.

UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post has reported that “All 19 passengers from the Gaza-bound Rachel Corrie aid ship have agreed to be deported to their home countries, Israel Radio reported Saturday.  Reports said the activists’ flights home will be paid for by the Israeli government”.  This is posted <a href=”http://www.jpost.com/Headlines/Article.aspx?id=177568″> here </a>.  And the IDF has reported that “The cargo found on board will be transferred to the Gaza Strip following security inspection”. This can be found <a href=”http://idfspokesperson.com/2010/06/05/photos-of-passengers-disembarking-from-ship-at-ashdod-port-5-june-2010/”>here</a>.

The IDF announced just before 6:00 this evening that “Moments ago the ship which was boarded earlier today by IDF naval forces [i.e., MV Rachel Corrie] docked at the Israeli port of Ashdod, after attempting to break the maritime closure of the Gaza Strip.  Nineteen people were onboard the boat, including eight crew members, all of whom will be transferred to the custody of the appropriate authorities in the Interior Ministry.  Then cargo found onboard will be transferred to the Gaza Strip following security inspection”.   This is posted <a href=”http:/www.idfspokesperson.com/2010/06/05/ship-attempting-to-break-maritime-closure-docks-at-ashdod-port-5-june-2010/”>here</a>.

A newly-released IDF audio tape reveals a Middle Eastern bazaar negotiation between a  cool but clearly very eager seller — an  IDF officer with an extremely cultivated English accent — and a very reluctant buyer, on board the MV Rachel Corrie, who wants only one thing, to get to Gaza.

Apparently, it was more important, as a matter of principle (“breaking the siege“?)  to those on board the MV Rachel Corrie to get to Gaza than to deliver the cargo on board.  It

“I’d like to propose something else.  It is not our desire — I repeat, not our desire — to board your boat”, the IDF negotiator says.  He offers “to escort the ship to Ashdod.  At the port of Ashdod, you’ll only undergo a standard inspection, standard for all incoming vessels”.

The MV Rachel Corrie replies: “How about this for a suggestion?  You stop and go have a cup of tea, and we continue on to Gaza … We cannot go into Ashdod and offload…  We cannot offload in Ashdod.  Over”.   The MV Rachel Corrie continued, “The Irish government had been, I think, in talks with the Israeli government, seeking safe passage for this ship to Gaza, and I think the best compromise they could come to was to send this ship to Ashdod.  We are further asking to let this ship go to Gaza.  Over”.

In the final IDF offer revealed on this tape, the officer says that that the 550 tons of cement on board the MV Rachel Corrie would all be transferred to Gaza: “”I’m still hoping we can take this a step ahead, and reach a resolution”, the IDF officer said.  And the man (Derek Graham?) on the MV Rachel Corrie said that was his desire, too …

Then, the IDF officer said: It’s been brought to my attention that, should we resolve this the way I propose … the cement, which you said is the bulk of your cargo, will be transferred to Gaza.  That is the assurance I’ve just been given by my superiors.  To the best of my knowledge, that will be precedent-setting.  [Added from newly-posted IDF transcript, <a href=”http://ht.ly/1UxgF”>here</a>]  It would (be) something you could take back to your supporters, to your fellow passengers, to the people you say you want to support, and to the government(s) you say you’re rebuking for not doing more for Gaza”.

Now, how can the IDF refuse to deliver this cement anyway?  And, if so, on what grounds?

And, what will happen now? Will those on board be deported? (They are reportedly now in Holon prison) Or will there be more civilized voluntary departures? And, of course, what will happen to the cement?

Several announcements were made during the day that other expeditions by sea to “break the siege” of Gaza were in the works.  One is set to leave Beirut next week, it was announced.  Another, the “Jewish boat”, is aiming to sail in the second week of July, it was reported on Mondoweiss.  And the AP reported from Nicosia that “Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement said on Saturday the group could [emphasis of the conditional was added] relocate its offices to London and that plans to send another flotilla of ships to Gaza in the early fall is still on.  She said the move is because of Cyprus’ decision to ban any ships from sailing to Gaza from its shore to protect its ‘vital interests’.”  This was reported in the Jerusalem Post here.

3 thoughts on “Saturday evening: MV Rachel Corrie docks in Ashdod”

  1. “If I am wrong, I will say so.

    If the IDF was wrong, it should say so.”

    Marian, that’s a moment now, that’s a moment.

  2. I am working on it. Watch for my next post, after a break for a glass of chocolate milk. Hint: I am not satisfied. I will, for the sake of argument, accept that what the IDF is now calling the unedited audio was, in fact, unedited (though there are plenty of wierd audio moments that could hide an edit, if someone really wanted to be manipulative. But, ok, I am going to believe the IDF’s sincerity on that. The real point is, those voices could have come from anywhere, any yahoos or woo-hoos — including malicious ones, trying to be provocative and cause damage — bobbing around on that sea, at that time…

  3. Marian
    Can’t they sail from the Turkish part of Cyprus ? Don’t know the geography of the island well?

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