In a last minute effort to avoid a naval raid on the Gaza bound ship Rachel Corrie, the Foreign Ministry Friday urged the activists on board to change course and head for the Israeli port of Ashdod.
The ship is expected to close in on Gaza Saturday morning. It's the second attempt this week by the Free Gaza Movement to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza as well as its closure of that area's land passages to all but humanitarian aid.[...]
"I want to once again deliver a message that has been delivered in both public and private channels to the Rachel Corrie ship heading toward Gaza," Foreign Ministry Director General Yossi Gal said in a statement he released to the press.[...]
The cabinet agreed that Israel must maintain the naval blockade of Gaza so that it could prevent Iran and terrorists groups such as Hizbullah from sending weapons to Hamas.
Israel's navy is prepared to intercept the ship and Netanyahu has instructed it not to harm the activists.[...]
"We have no desire for a confrontation," said Gal. "We have no desire to board the ship. If the ship decides to sail the port of Ashdod, then we will ensure its safe arrival and will not board it," he said.[...]
Greta Berlin, a co-founder of the Free Gaza movement, said those on board the ship had no intention of ceding to Israel's request. Nor, she said, were they impressed by Netanyahu's statements Thursday to UN Middle East envoy Tony Blair, in which he promised to increase the amount and variety of goods which could enter Gaza by land.