Israel Deports via Jordan Eight Gaza-bound Activists

Seven of the deportees - six Malaysians and a Cuban - were aboard the Irish vessel Rachel Corrie, while an eighth was wounded on Mavi Marmara.

Israel on Sunday expelled to Jordan eight activists who were aboard Gaza-bound aid ships seized by Israeli authorities over the last week.

Seven of the deportees - six Malaysians and a Cuban - were aboard the Irish vessel Rachel Corrie, which was seized by the Israeli maritime authorities on Saturday.

An Indonesian activist, who was wounded in the bloody Israeli raid on the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara on Monday, also arrived at the King Hussein border crossing and was admitted to an Amman hospital for treatment.

The ship interceptions - especially the bloody outcome of Monday's action, which left nine dead - have drawn an international outcry. Israel does not allow outsiders free access to Gaza and had warned the ships they would be repelled if they tried to bring aid to the salient.

Israel blockades the regime because it opposes the de facto rule of the Islamist Hamas organization. But opponents say the blockade unfairly hurts innocent inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.

All expelled activists were welcomed at the crossing point by the head of the Hashemite Charity Organization, Ahmad al-Omyan, who expressed "King Abdullah's appreciation of their distinguished humanitarian role," officials said.

A Malaysian activist, who was among the deportees, described Israel's seizure of the Rachel Corrie as "a barbaric method, because what at stake was a humanitarian mission to save a people which are being exposed to genocide.

"We were kidnapped on the high seas because we were on a humanitarian mission to save the Gazan people from starvation," Matthias Chang, from the Perdana Global Peace Organization, told the German Press Agency DPA over telephone from his Amman hotel.

Chang, who was also a political adviser for former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, said that his organisation "will try to arrange for a new flotilla to break the Gaza blockade."

The eight expulsions bring the total number of activists deported to Jordan to 32 people from 14 countries.