A new flotilla with pro-Palestinian activists on board is headed for the Gaza Strip in a bid to break the Israeli-imposed blockade on the impoverished coastal enclave.
One of the ships, named Marianne of Gothenburg, has left Italian city of Palermo, said the activists in a Sunday statement. The flotilla had set off from Sweden at the end of May.
The Swedish Gaza-bound flotilla will be joined by other boats on its way to the sliver. The vessels, carrying small amounts of medical supplies and aids such as solar panels, hope to reach the besieged enclave by the end of June.
On board the Marianne of Gothenburg are activists from Sweden, Canada, Norway, and Spanish European Parliament member Ana Maria Miranda Paza.
An Israeli Arab lawmaker, Basel Ghattas, has announced that he would join the activists.
He wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the minister of military affairs, Moshe Yaalon, on Sunday urging them to let the boats reach Gaza.
The “Flotilla of Peace” seeks to break the siege of Gaza and turn the world’s attention to the 1.8 million Palestinians who are living in “prison conditions,” he added.
Ghattas called the Israeli blockade of Gaza “a flagrant violation of humanitarian law”, and stressed that there is no reason to prevent delivering humanitarian aid to enclave.
Meanwhile, an Israel military spokesman said the military “will not allow any vessel to reach Gaza and to cross the maritime border of Israel.”
Since 2007, Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza, which has caused a serious decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.
On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos attacked the Turkish-flagged MV Mavi Marmara (seen above) that was part of a six-ship convoy named the Freedom Flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea, killing nine Turkish citizens and injuring about 50 others. A 10th died recently after four years in a coma.
The flotilla was attempting to break the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip by carrying aid to the Palestinians in the impoverished enclave.