Wednesday, 17 June 2009

More aid ships to challenge Gaza blockade

The United States-based Free Gaza Movement is to dispatch two aid boats to the Gaza Strip from Cyprus.

The ships will sail from Larnaca port on the Mediterranean on June 25 and the voyage will take about 30 hours before docking at a Gaza fishing port, said Amjad al-Shawa, coordinator of Palestinian NGO network in Gaza city.

The ships, with Western journalists, human rights and peace activists on board, will also carry symbolic amounts of concrete, iron and medical supplies that are in urgent need in Gaza due to a two-year-old Israeli blockade, al-Shawa added.

The delegation will stay in Gaza for two days and will inspect areas damaged by Israel during a military offensive in January and will look into the effects of the blockade.

Through August to December 2008, Israel allowed several boats, ferried by the Free Gaza Movement, to enter Gaza's territorial waters. But after the Gaza war, Israel turned away the boats.

Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza in June 2007 when Hamas routed security forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and took over the enclave. Xinhua

A ship from the movement readying for Gaza sank outside the Cypriot port of Limassol. in early May - see our report.