Saed Bannoura – IMEMC
|Peace activist and children on the deck of the ‘Free gaza’ boatThursday August 21, 2008Despite Israeli objections and attempts to intervene, Cyprian authorities have given the go-ahead for two boats filled with humanitarian supplies and 60 international activists to set sail tomorrow for the Gaza Strip. The boats took off at midnight Thursday morning.
The ‘Free Gaza’ movement has been collecting money and supplies since last year to allow the unprecedented blockade-breaking trip to move forward. As the sixty activists gathered in Cyprus two weeks ago, the Israeli government issued statements indicating that the Israeli navy would shoot the boats if they tried to bring the humanitarian aid to Gaza.
In addition, activists on the boat have reported receiving death threats for their work. Palestinian activist Osama Qashoo, who now lives in London, told Agence France Presse on Wednesday that over the last two weeks, he has received around twenty death threats on his phone, some of which have been traced to Israeli cell phones. He said his family in Qalqilia, in the West Bank, has also received death threats.
The aim of the group is to bring much-needed medicine, medical supplies and food to the civilian population of Gaza, which has been suffering under an Israeli-imposed siege for over a year.
Now, the boats are setting sail from Cyprus for the 30-hour trip to Gaza. Tom Nelson, the Portland, Oregon-based lawyer for the group, says they are simply trying to expose the truth about Israel’s targeting of civilians in Gaza. Israel has cited ‘security concerns’ in its announced plan to shoot the boats as they approach the Gaza shore.