Israel to free Irish ship activists
One day after Israel stopped another Gaza-bound aid ship as part of its crippling blockade on the impoverished strip, Tel Aviv says it will deport activists abducted on the new vessel, PRESS TV reported.
The Israeli Navy on Saturday intercepted and later seized an Irish aid ship, the Rachel Corrie, which was carrying 1,000 tons of aid for the impoverished people of Gaza.
The ship was later transferred to the port of Ashdod.
According to the Associated Press, there were 11 activists onboard the humanitarian aid ship, including six Malaysians and five Irish nationals among them Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire.
Meanwhile, Israeli Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said on Saturday night that all 19 people onboard -- the 11 activists and eight crewmembers -- were being held at Israel's international airport, adding that eight had agreed to leave voluntarily on Sunday.
While the remaining activists are set to challenge the deportations, Haddad said she expected some of them to change their minds and leave voluntarily.
The latest takeover came after Israeli commandos earlier on Monday attacked a contingent of international aid ships, killing at least nine activists and injuring more than 40 others.
Commenting on Israel's Saturday takeover of the aid ship, the Dublin-based Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign strongly criticized the move.
"For the second time in less than a week, Israeli forces stormed and hijacked an unarmed aid ship, kidnapping its passengers and forcing the ship toward Ashdod port," the campaigners said in a statement.