Friday, 4 June 2010

Rachel Corrie makes its way to Gaza

AMMAN: Volunteers on the MV Rachel Corrie are not trained soldiers, and they are fearful of being attacked by the Israeli army – but they are determined to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“Of course there is worry, but this is an amanah (trust bestowed upon us) to deliver the aid to Gaza,” said Perdana Global Peace Organisation representative Shamsul Akmar in an interview.

He is on board the sole ship making its way to Gaza.

Israel’s attack on the six aid ships in international waters on Monday resulting in nine deaths only made those on Rachel Corrie more determined to carry out their amanah.

Rachel Corrie was supposed to be part of the flotilla but she got left behind due to delays and some “suspicious stringent checks” by port authorities at several places, said Shamsul.

If all goes well, the 1,200 tonne Rachel Corrie, carrying medical aid, construction material, toys, educational and writing material is expected to reach Gaza on Saturday.

There are 19 people on board and they have been travelling for 20 days.

Other than Shamsul, who is the head of the delegation, there are five other Malaysians – Matthias Chang, Parit MP Nizar Zakaria, activist Ahmad Faizal Azumu and TV3 crew members Halim Mohamed and Jufri Junid.

Also on board is a strong Irish delegation with Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire.

There are six crew members, a captain and a chief engineer.

The ship is funded by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Perdana Global Peace Orga­nisation.

Shamsul said there are a number of possible scenarios:

> Israel may let Rachel Corrie through

> Israel may become aggressive and board the ship; and

> those on board the ship may be shot by Israeli forces

Shamsul said that if Israel stopped the ship in international waters, but the ship was forced away, “we collectively feel we should stay there for a few days to try and deliver the aid.”

The tiny Gaza strip has been put under a strangling blockade after Hamas took over control of it in 2007, causing hardship to the 1.5 million living in what is called the “world’s biggest prison on earth.”

In December 2008, Israel launched a three week massive military strike on Gaza, killing at least 1,400 people and destroying many homes, buildings, factories and infrastructure.

But because of the siege, Gaza has not been able to bring the materials needed to rebuild including construction material like cement, glass and bricks. The Star

Muslims Pray, Protest Against Israeli Violence

KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 (Bernama) -- Muslims on Friday offered special prayers for Palestinians and protested against the Israeli raid on the Gaza humanitarian flotilla killing nine people.

Non-governmental organisations (NGO) including Aman Malaysia and Umno Youth gathered in the compound of Masjid Negara after Friday and special (hajat) prayers for the safety of the activists.

Aman Malaysia adviser and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said the rally was to support Palestinians and condemn the inhuman act of the Israeli regime.

Chairman Datuk Ahmad Zaki Zahid said Malaysians had been angry with Israel for a long time for oppressing the Palestinians.

"Israel's act of violence and utter disregard for international law has inflamed anger among Malaysians," he said.

Khairy launched a "SMS For Gaza" campaign to collect funds for Gaza. Donors only have to send SMS by typing "GAZA" and send to 32928.

Earlier, Masjid Negara imam besar Tan Sri Syaikh Ismail Muhammad used the sermon to condemn Israel for the inhuman act against activists taking humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Another rally took place at Masjid Jamek Kampung Baru led by opposition leader and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The anti-Israel rally attended by about 10,000 people then proceed to the United States embassy in Jalan Ampang and ended at 4pm after a memorandum was delivered.

In JOHOR BAHARU, over 100 NGO and Pakatan Rakyat party members held a rally in the compound of Masjid Sultan Abu Bakar after Friday prayers.

The anti-Israel rally in heavy rain lasted 30 minutes and ended with burning of the flags of Israel and United States.

In KOTA BHARU, some 5,000 Muslims gathered near Sultan Mohammed Stadium for special prayers for Palestinians led by Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.

He said the Kelantan government spent RM25,000 monthly under the Palestinian Education Aid Fund to finance Palestinian students at several institutions of higher learning.

In Penang, over 500 people participated in an rally organised by Penang Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) at Masjid Kapitan Keling.

The 30-minute anti-Israel protest after Fridays prayers was filled with fiery speeches by NGO representatives.

In TAWAU, about 100 Muslims held a peaceful rally at Masjid Al-Kauthar after Friday prayers to protest Israeli violence.

Special prayers were also held for the safety of Palestinians and the humanitarian vessel heading for Gaza.

In IPOH, the family of Dr Selamat Aliman, one of 12 Malaysian activists on board "Mavi Marmara" raided by Israeli commandos, would be holding a feast to mark his return.

Dr Selamat, 54, a member of Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM) was expected to arrive at KL International Airport (KLIA) early Sunday with nine others, including two staff of Astro Awani.

His wife Faezah Hassan, 52, said no date had been set as it would depend on Dr Selamat's work schedule. -- BERNAMA

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