The latest on the MV Rachel Corrie..

At 5:50 AM Israeli time the ship Rachel Corrie was boarded and taken by the Israeli Navy. They apparently jammed all communications and there is no word on what happened next.
Three navy boats were involved.

More here. More here.

Then… This is the report from the AP:

They don’t mention being boarded..

UPDATE 1: The Jerusalem Post is now reporting that the the boat was in fact NOT boarded, but is being followed.

UPDATE 2Report: ‘Rachel Corrie’ near Alexandria, sailing along coast

The Rachel Corrie, an Irish ship planning to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza was reported early Saturday to be sailing along the North African coast and had recently passed Alexandria in Egypt.

According to the report on Israel Radio, the ship was planning to reach Gaza at 7 AM when it would be visible from the coast, so that any boarding could be filmed.

Juan Cole of Informed Comment wrote a good post today on this situation with this ship carrying humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza: Rachel Corrie Steaming toward Gaza – Likud Vows it will Not Arrive

From Huffington Post earlier today: Gaza Blockade: Israel Vows To Block Rachel Corrie, New Aid Ship

Who is Rachel Corrie? Also, from Wikipedia..

Today CNN named Rachel’s parents Craig and Cindy Corrie today’s “Most Intriguing Person[s]”.

The memorial site set up for Rachel. You can read her emails that she sent home from Gaza just before she was killed.

Visit The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice.

Listen to this interview with Rachel’s father Craig Corrie discussing the ship MV Rachel Corrie being named after his daughter, which aired May 30, 2010:

UPDATE 3: Salem-News.com reports: Freedom Flotilla’s MV Rachel Corrie Spotted Off Gaza Coastline

Israeli Defense Forces have Twittered confirmation that the Rachel Corrie has not been boarded. The IDF says they want the Rachel Corrie to proceed to the port of Ashdod, Israel, but the activists aboard the remaining vessel dedicated toward breaking the siege of Gaza, say they will stay on course, for the port at Gaza.

Ben Wedeman of CNN reported around 10:06 p.m. west coast time via Twitter, that, “Through binoculars can see ship to Northwest with smaller vessels around it. Could be Rachel Corrie.

It was reported at 10:17 p.m. that Israeli naval activity in the Gaza port is more intense than usual, presumably in anticipation of the arrival of the Rachel Corrie. (Read on..)

UPDATE 4: 6 Minutes ago from CNN (11 PM PST):

Ashdod, Israel (CNN) — The Israeli military has been in contact with an Irish-owned aid ship headed for Gaza, but has not boarded the boat, Israeli military officials said Saturday.

A crew member on board who spoke to CNN Saturday night said three Israeli ships were following the MV Rachel Corrie, a cargo ship loaded with humanitarian aid and bound for Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade.

The military said it made an identification request to the boat but had not issued a warning to the vessel. The MV Rachel Corrie was 40 miles from shore, the military said.

The BBC is also reporting that the Israeli navy has intercepted the MV Rachel Corrie, but not boarded as yet. The Israeli navy  has warned the people aboard the MV Rachel Corrie that they will not let them reach Gaza.. The latest from BBC.. – Israeli navy ‘shadowing’ Rachel Corrie Gaza aid ship

UPDATE 5: According to the IDF Spokesperson Twitter page :

19 minutes ago “according to last update, Rachel Corrie ~40 miles from shore”, 23 minutes ago “Rachel Corrie has now rejected 2nd call from IDF navy to dock at Ashdod Port”

Further updates will be in the comments..

On Trip to Gaza, Rachel Corrie’s Parents Remember Their Daughter

Yesterday, March 16th, marked the 6th anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie, a peace activist and international observer from Olympia Washington, who was crushed to death in Rafah by an Israeli (IDF) bulldozer, (made in the USA by Caterpillar), while trying to prevent the home of a Palestinian physician and his family from being demolished.

This story is near and dear to my heart. Rachel’s mother was my friend through the years as Rachel was growing up. The Corries are the most kind, intelligent, informed, compassionate, honest, peaceful, loving people you would ever have the privilege of knowing.

Rachel’s life ended violently, tragically, at the age of 23, and yet through the pain and loss of their youngest daughter, Craig and Cindy Corrie have worked diligently since Rachel’s death to shine a light on the situation in Gaza, working to educate others on the plight of the Palestinian people living there.

This is a very good interview with the parents of Rachel Corrie – in two parts (below the fold):
Continue reading

The “open prison” of Gaza

via: BBC News

By Aleem Maqbool
BBC News, Gaza

This is a tiny strip of land and its life is being drained out of it.

For years, the spirit of those living here has taken a pounding, not only from the frequent Israeli military attacks but also by fighting between the various Palestinian factions here.

But now the territory’s near-complete isolation – brought about by the blockade – may be delivering the final blows to hope.

“It’s like being on death row,” I am frequently told and almost every Gazan you speak to talks of his land being an “open prison”.

Read this entire article..

Five years ago today Rachel Corrie, a 23 year old student of Evergreen State University (Washington), was killed when she was crushed to death by being run over by an Israeli bulldozer in Rafah (in the Gaza strip).

Rachel was an unarmed peace activist trying to prevent the demolition of the home of a Palestinian pharmacist, his wife, and three children. They were not terrorists, they were a family.

Israel has called Rachel’s death an accident and closed any further investigation. Those who were there, and witnessed what happened, know that it was not an accident.

This was a tragedy, just one more amongst many tragedies, that take place daily in Gaza and throughout the Middle East. Rachel’s death touched me directly. Her mother was my friend. Today is a sad day for me as I remember Rachel’s death.

There are many in this country who have vilified Rachel in the media, accusing her of being stupid, impulsive, or naive, and even worse, accusing her of supporting the ‘terrorists’. That is a total lack of understanding of who she was and what she was trying to do. They couldn’t be more wrong – about Rachel, or her family.

I knew Rachel, through her mother, from when she was a youth in elementary school. She was an incredibly bright, deep thinking, passionate, thoughtful, artistic person from a very young age. She had a passion for fighting for peace and justice. That only grew with age. She had a level of insight and understanding far beyond her years. She wasn’t perfect, she had her struggles as well, but she translated her fight for what was right into her actions. This took her to Rafah right before the war in Iraq began. It also took her to her death.

Rachel wrote several emails home to her parents that they shared with me. (Here are a few more). She was a gifted writer and poet. If you have a moment, take the time to read them. They open a window to the world of what these Palestinians in Rafah go through daily, and show what their world looks as seen through the eyes of an outside observer. Her goal was to shine a bright light on what was happening there; make the rest of the world take notice. Her fear was that as the US went to war in Iraq, Rafah (Gaza) would fall under the radar and people would stop paying attention (which they pretty much have) to what was happening there. Her emails describe much better than I possibly can what she saw and experienced, and why she was there there doing what she was doing.

Here is the memorial website for Rachel that her family created. There are many links to articles, editorials, and memorials.
More on marking the anniversary of Rachel’s death from Rachel’sWords.Org.