Monday, September 27, 2010

Jewish activists set sail for Gaza planning to break blockade

Voyage by boat carrying supporters of Jews for Justice for Palestinians comes four months after Israeli attack on flotilla

Associated Press in Cyprus, The Guardian, Sep 26, 2010

Four activists board the catamaran, named Irene, before their departure from the port of Famagusta in Cyprus. Photograph: Hasan Mroue/AFP/Getty Images

A boat carrying Jewish activists from Israel, Germany, the US and Britain set sail today for Gaza, hoping to breach Israel’s naval blockade there.

Richard Kuper, an organiser with the British group Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said one goal was to show that not all Jews supported Israeli policies toward Palestinians. Kuper said the boat, which set sail from northern Cyprus flying a British flag, would not resist Israeli authorities.

The voyage by the 10-metre catamaran Irene comes nearly four months after Israeli commandos boarded a flotilla of Gaza-bound ships, killing eight pro-Palestinian Turkish activists and a Turkish American aboard the Mavi Marmara.

Rami Elhanan, an Israeli passenger whose daughter Smadar was killed in a suicide bombing at a shopping mall in Jerusalem in 1997, said it was his “moral duty” to act in support of Palestinians in Gaza because reconciliation was the surest path to peace.

“Those 1.5 million people in Gaza are victims exactly as I am,” Elhanan, 60, said.

Alison Prager, another organiser from Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said many Jews had been on previous “blockade-busting trips” to Gaza, but this was the first time Jewish groups had banded together to send a boat of their own.

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