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New Aid Ship Heads to Gaza, Israel Vows to Stop It

Israel will not allow the aid ship to reach Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told senior Cabinet ministers late Thursday.

(CBS/AP) A pro-Palestinian activist ship -- the 1,200-ton Rachel Corrie -- may attempt to run the Israeli blockade as soon as Saturday, a Gaza campaigner told CBS News London this morning.

The ship, laden with concrete and medical supplies, follows the Israeli assault on a flotilla of ships trying to reach port in Gaza on Monday that left nine activists dead.

Israel's prime minister has vowed the ship will not reach land.

Benjamin Netanyahu told senior Cabinet ministers late Thursday that Israel will not allow the aid ship to reach Gaza. According to a participant in the meeting, he said Israel made several offers to direct the ship to an Israeli port, where the aid supplies would be unloaded, inspected and transferred to Gaza by land, but the offers were rejected.

Audrey Bomse, legal co-coordinator for the Free Gaza Movement which is one of the organizers of the aid convoy, said that her team had lost all contact with the Rachel Corrie yesterday and suspects that the Israeli military is jamming the communications.

She said: "We've lost communication with her. We believe communication has been jammed by Israel. The spotting system has stopped and the satellite phone is not working."

The vessel had not stopped in Cyprus and was on its way to Gaza, she said. She believes it may be in international waters off Israel by tomorrow afternoon.

Bomse said: "She didn't stop in Greece. She left Malta three days ago. We had communications through to yesterday. We are assuming that it's the Israelis who are interfering with the communications.

"The Corrie was already just past Crete, that was yesterday morning. We were assuming it was going to go into port in Crete as we were hoping to load on more supplies and media."

Bomse said that if the Corrie reached the vicinity of Gaza waters by late tomorrow afternoon, it would wait until daylight the next day before attempting to break the blockade.

Referring to the under-cover-of-darkness flotilla assault at the beginning of the week, she said: "At all costs we want to avoid a confrontation with Israel at night."

Bomse said that the Corrie has no plans to re-direct to an Israeli port.

"If they do that it's not for the Gaza movement," she said.

The 1,200-ton vessel is carrying mainly concrete. Paper, motorized wheelchairs, and a whole dentist surgery are also on board.

Bomse refutes absolutely the Israeli claim that the cargo could be used by Hamas militants for offensive operations against Israel.

She said: "The list of items has nothing to do with security. Paper can't be made into weapons. We are not delivering our cargo to Hamas, we are bringing it to the people of Gaza."

She said that there had been negotiations between the Irish government and Israeli authorities over the Corrie reaching port in Gaza without encountering Israeli interference.

Bomse added that Denis Halliday, a former UN assistant secretary general, who is on board the Corrie, had asked for UN participation and had invited a representative onto the ship. She does not know whether that has happened yet.

More on the Israeli Raid:

U.S.-Turkish Man, 19, Among Dead in Israeli Raid
Turkish Organizer, Israel Argue Over Flotilla
Flotilla Activists Returning to Greece, Turkey
7 Things You May Not Know About the Raid
Washington Unplugged: Israeli U.S. Ambassador on Raid
Israel Raises Concerns Over Relationship with Turkey
Free Gaza Movement Vows Future Missions
Politicians from Both Parties Rally Behind Israel
Photos: Protests against Flotilla Raid

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