The tracking boat, "Oliva," took to sea Wednesday morning carrying activists from the Unites States, Spain, Italy and Belgium belonging to different foreign organizations. One of the organizers of the event was Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, who was killed last week in Gaza by an Al-Qaeda linked organization.
One of the activists said they do not intend to sail outside the known fishing borders, but rather to "supervise and document violations of the international law by photographing and distributing them".
The activists added that their main concern is to make sure the Palestinian fishermen "enjoy the freedom to fish."
"Even if the fishermen decide to cross the borders set by the Israeli navy, we'll document the aggression," a Belgium activist onboard the boat told Ynet.
Only documenting? (Archive Photo: AFP)
The activist added that the Palestinian fishermen are obedient and do not wish to stir up any provocation.
The Oliva is a 24-foot yacht carrying a flag with the slogan "CPSGAZA" (Civil Peace Service Gaza) and all of the activists onboard are dressed in white.
According to the organizers, ever since Operation Cast Lead Israel has limited the fishing area in Gaza, setting the borders only 3 miles off-shore – what they claim is a breach of the Oslo Accords.
They added that the Israeli navy forces consistently threaten to fire at Palestinian fishermen and confiscate their boats.
Full steam ahead?
Statistics presented by the organizers, which they claim to have come from the Red Cross, indicate great poverty amongst fishermen in Gaza. "Nearly 90% of the fishermen in Gaza are considered poor or have a monthly income of $100 to $190, or are considered very poor, earning less than $100 per month – this compared to only 50% in 2008," an activist said.
"In a few days we'll begin our full operation, with every boat carrying at least two activists per sail," the Belgium activist informed Ynet. "You're welcome to read up on our mission on our website and you're invited to show your support. Entering Gaza to join us might be a little hard though."
An IDF official stated that "the navy will not permit any sea-craft from Gaza Strip to violate the blockade and will operate according to the political echelon's decision." Other officials added that the IDF does not intend to act violently or aggressively in any way, but only to make the laws clear.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report
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