Bibi vows new ship will not enter

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Confusion surrounds the status of the Rachel Corrie, the latest ship carrying aid to Gaza.

The ship, part of the original Freedom Flotilla, fell behind the fleet after suffering technical problems but has been sailing towards Israel since yesterday.

Some reports claim it has turned back while others state it is due to arrive on Saturday morning.

Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu said yesterday that the ship, organised by the Free Gaza movement, would not be allowed to reach Gaza.

He told Israelis news website ynet: “We shall not allow the ships to reach Gaza. Not now and not later on.

“We intend to direct the Rachel Corrie ship to the Ashdod port and transfer its civilian goods to Gaza following a security check.”

There are 11 passengers on board, consisting of British, Irish and Malaysian nationals, including Máiread Maguire, the Nobel peace prize laureate and Denis Halliday, a former UN assistant secretary-general.

According to the Daily Telegraph today, the Free Gaza Movement said it had lost contact with the vessel and assumed Israel had sabotaged communication systems on board.

The report quotes Audrey Bomse of the Free Gaza Movement as saying: “The situation is we lost all contact with the boat.

“We assume this was sabotage by the Israelis.

“As a result of these threats, we're going to pull Rachel Corrie into a port, add more high-profile people on board, and insist that journalists from around the world also come with us.

“We're hoping communications get turned back on so we can inform them of the decision.”

But Martin O'Quigley, from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which is working with the Free Gaza Movement, told the Guardian today: “They're 150 miles from Gaza, and they should be approaching the exclusion zone at 8am tomorrow morning.”

Last updated: 11:52am, June 4 2010