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Ship escapes Israeli raid after being delayed in Malta

Protests over the raid were held in various countries.

Protests over the raid were held in various countries.

A ship which was meant to form part of the aid flotilla to Gaza escaped the Israeli raid yesterday because it was delayed in Malta.

The Irish Times reports today that five Irish activists were aboard the 1,200-ton Irish-owned cargo ship Rachel Corrie which was delayed in Malta by mechanical problems. It left early yesterday with those on board insisting they still wanted to take their humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Initial reports said that up to 19 people from various countries died when Israeli troops descended from helicopters onto the six-ship flotilla yesterday. Reports this morning say at least nine people were killed. The raid raised an international storm of condemnation, but Israel defended its actions, saying its troops had been attacked.

Most of the ships started the final part of their journey from Turkey or Cyprus.

Malta yesterday condemned the loss of life and excessive use of force by Israel. Condemnation was also expressed by the Labour Party, Alternattiva and the Communist Party.

ISRAEL DETAINS 480 ACTIVISTS

During the raid Israel captured and detained 480 pro-Palestinian activists who were on the six ships.

Those detained are being held at the southern Israeli prison of Ashdod. A further 48 are being taken to Ben Gurion international airport to be sent back to their home countries.

Israeli officials would question the detainees before deciding whether to free them or prosecute them.

Another 45 activists, most of them Turkish, are being treated in various hospitals.

The bloody raid prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a visit to Canada and postpone a trip to Washington where he had been due to meet with US President Barack Obama today.

The United Nations Security Council discussed the raid and called for an independent and impartial investigation.

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