Israel vows to stop aid ship
JERUSALEM – Israel vowed yesterday to keep an Irish aid ship from breaching its blockade of the impoverished Gaza Strip, appealing to pro-Palestinian activists to dock at an Israeli port and avoid another showdown at sea.
The new effort to break the blockade will test Israel’s resolve as it faces a wave of international outrage over its deadly naval raid of another aid ship earlier this week.
Activists on board the Irish boat, including a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, insisted they would not resist if Israeli soldiers tried to take over their vessel. They said they expected the 1 200-ton Rachel Corrie to reach Gaza by late this morning.
Diplomatic fall-out and protests across Europe and the Muslim world have increased pressure to end the embargo Israel imposed after the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power in Gaza three years ago.
The blockade has plunged the territory’s 1.5 million residents deeper into poverty and sharply raised Mideast tensions as the United States makes a new push for regional peace.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Thursday that the Irish boat would not be allowed to reach Gaza. (AP)