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Rachel Corrie being boarded by Israeli Defense Forces

Gaza aid ship Rachel Corrie may never be returned to Irish

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Rachel Corrie being boarded by Israeli Defense Forces

Peace activists who were on the Rachel Corrie have said they do not hold out much hope of ever getting the ship back after Israel continues to detain the vessel indefinitely.

Campaigners believe that the boats are being held by Israel in order to deter further activists from attempting to block the state’s naval blockade of the coastal territory.

Israel last week relaxed the blockade of the Gaza Strip, allowing food and a wider range of building materials to enter into the Hamas-controlled territory. Envoy to the Middle East, Tony Blair said last week that the easing in the restrictions renders the role of aid bringers, such as those aboard the Rachel Corrie, obsolete.

Two other vessels that were detained and held by Israeli authorities remain in Israel with an indefinite fate. The Arion has been sitting in the Israeli port of Ashdod for a year and its fate remains unclear while the Challenger 1, which was detained just days before the Rachel Corrie, remains in Israel.

"We are in the process [of trying to get the ships back] but that is done through the international stage," said Derek Graham, the first mate of the Rachel Corrie.

Graham remains undeterred, though, in his efforts to break the naval blockade of Gaza:

"The next flotillas are planned for September but the operations are so big you can't hold them to a date," he said.

Ireland-Israeli diplomatic relations are thought to be nearing an all-time low after the Irish government expelled an official for the Israeli Embassy over the passport-faking scandal.

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