By Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City | The Independent, Sunday, 24 August 2008
Two boats carrying dozens of international activists sailed into the Gaza Strip in defiance of an Israeli blockade yesterday. They were greeted by jubilant Palestinians after a two-day journey marred by communications troubles and rough seas. The 46 activists from 14 countries include Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of Tony Blair.
Since sailing from Cyprus early on Friday, the mission by the US-based Free Gaza Movement had been in question. Israel initially hinted it would prevent the vessels from reaching Gaza, but relented after determining the activists did not pose a security threat.
Israel imposed its blockade in June 2007 after Hamas seized power in Gaza. Israel has closed its trade crossings with the territory, while neighbouring Egypt sealed its passenger crossing, confining Gaza’s 1.4 million residents. Israel has allowed only basic supplies into Gaza, causing shortages of fuel, electricity and basic goods.