Page last updated at 05:48 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 06:48 UK

Campaigner tells of Israel arrest

Mairead Maguire at a peace rally in Belfast
Mairead Maguire was arrested along with a group of campaigners

Veteran Northern Ireland human rights campaigner Mairead Maguire has been speaking about her arrest by Israeli special forces.

Ms Maguire was detained on Tuesday with a group of campaigners, including ex-US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, onboard a boat bringing aid to Gaza.

"Specially trained Israeli forces, complete with balaclavas and guns, came onboard our ship," she said.

"They took our ship from Gazan waters to Ashdod completely against our will."

The Nobel Laureate is expected to be deported in the coming days.

Israeli forces boarded the ship which was trying to carry aid and pro-Palestinian activists to the Gaza Strip in defiance of Israel's blockade of the territory.

Ms McKinney described it as "an outrageous violation of international law", as the boat was on a humanitarian mission and was not in Israeli waters.

Free Gaza Movement member hangs Palestinian flag on the boat
The ship left the Cypriot port of Larnaca on Monday

The Israeli military said the boat was trying to enter Gaza illegally.

The US-based Free Gaza Movement has breached the blockade five times since August 2008.

Two other attempts by the activist group were stopped by Israeli warships during Israel's three-week military offensive in Gaza in December and January.

Israel keeps a tight hold on Gaza, which is ruled by the militant Palestinian group Hamas.

The Israeli military said the passengers and crew of the Greek-registered ship Arion would be handed over to immigration authorities in Ashdod, and its humanitarian aid cargo would be taken to Gaza by road after a security check.

"An Israeli navy force intercepted, boarded and took control of the cargo boat Arion... as it was illegally attempting to enter the Gaza Strip," a military spokesman said.

Mairead Corrigan co-founded Women for Peace, which later became the Community for Peace People, along with fellow Belfast woman Betty Williams.

The two women were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for their efforts in trying to encourage a peaceful resolution to the Troubles in Northern Ireland.



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SEE ALSO
Peace laureate hit by baton round
21 Apr 07 |  Northern Ireland
Legacy of NI peace movement
11 Aug 06 |  Northern Ireland

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