Israeli news: Activists to launch flotilla from Gaza to Europe
Gazans, leftwing activists plan to sail in September from Gaza to Europe, carrying local produce; project's goal is to raise awareness to Gaza naval blockade, organizers say.
by Ahiya Raved
7 July 2013
Canadian and European activists staying in Gaza are planning to launch a flotilla which will carry Gazan produce and textiles from the strip to Europe. The vessel, currently a fishing boat, is being converted to a cargo ship, and organizers are planning to set sails in the near future.
The project's goal, the activists say, is to raise public awareness to the strife of the maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Charlie Anderson, a Swedish activist who was on board the Gaza-bound Estelle last year, told Ynet that the group was planning to launch the flotilla in September and that the activists were not concerned that the Israeli Navy would stop the boat.
"If it does," Anderson said, "it will find it very difficult to explain to the world why it's stopping a Gaza cargo ship carrying civilian products meant for Europe."
International activists as well as Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are to take part in the project, which was named "Gaza's Arc."
Mahfouz Havriti, one of the Palestinians in the project, stressed that the project's activists had nothing to do with Gaza's Hamas government.
"This is a civilian, independent project, whose aim is to raise public awareness to the issue of Gaza's maritime blockade and the activists have no intention of confronting with the Navy in case it tries to stop the shift."
This will not be the first time that the Palestinians try to break the naval blockade the Gaza Strip is under. Two months ago, Hamas thwarted a project, run by leftwing activists who initiated the sailing of several fishing boats scheduled to sail from the strip.
Hamas' foiling of the project was in keeping with understandings reached with Israel following Operation Pillar of Defense.
According to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, "The IDF… is pursuing its mission to secure Israeli borders, including Israel's naval border. We will of course not specify military operations on the matter."
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