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Wednesday June 2, 2010 6:47 PM (EST+7)
Aid ship says determined to continue journey to Gaza

Read more: MV Rachel Corrie, flotilla, activists, Gaza blockade, aid ship

DUBLIN, June 2 (Reuters/Marie-Louise Gumuchian) - An aid ship carrying cargo to Gaza is determined to finish its journey despite a naval blockade and expects to reach the point where Israeli commandos raided a flotilla later this week, a crew member said.

The MV Rachel Corrie, a converted merchant ship bought by pro-Palestinian activists and named after an American woman killed in the Gaza Strip in 2003, set off on Monday from Malta.

Carrying 15 activists including a northern Irish Nobel Peace laureate, it expects to be at the point of Monday's deadly raid on a Turkish-backed aid convoy between Friday evening and Saturday morning, crew member Derek Graham said.

The Israeli navy stormed the Turkish ferry leading a six-ship convoy, killing nine people in what Israeli authorities have said was self-defence. The killings have sparked a world outcry and condemnations of Israel.

We had a meeting after what happened on Monday morning and we were more determined than ever to continue with our mission, Graham told Irish state broadcaster RTE on Wednesday.

He said he would inform Israeli authorities of the exact positions of the ship's passengers.

I will advise the passengers and crew to sit quietly with their hands shown so they cannot do like they did on Monday and claim we attacked them, he said. We are a peaceful mission.

Israel has offered to escort the vessel and deliver the civilian aid for it. It said Egypt is prepared to do the same.

Graham said he was concerned not all cargo would be delivered. The ship has medical equipment, school supplies and cement, a material Israel has banned from entering Gaza.

The Irish government, which described the vessel as Irish-owned, said it maintained contact with the ship and that it should be allowed to finish its mission unimpeded.

We have continued to make it clear to the Israeli government ... that we want maximum restraint and we do not want any interception in international waters, Foreign Minister Micheal Martin told reporters.

It is extremely important that we do not have a repeat of what happened earlier this week.

Speaking at a separate news conference held together with activists, Chris Andrews, a member of parliament from Martin's ruling Fianna Fail party, said there were plans for another flotilla to Gaza.

The events ... have only made people more determined, he said, adding that if force were used against the Rachel Corrie, there will be consequences for that.






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