One of the flotilla's boats
Photo: AFP

Flotilla sets off for Gaza

Navy awaits aid flotilla, which set sail at 9:20 am after numerous delays. Organizers say satellite phones stopped working at 2 am due to outside interference, vow to passively resist soldiers who attempt to board boats

Organizers of an aid flotilla to Gaza announced Sunday morning that all participating boats had left for the final leg of their journey. Greta Berlin, of the Free Gaza Movement, told Ynet the boats had convened near Cyprus overnight and set sail.


Berlin added that all satellite phones on board had stopped working around 2 am, and said it was an external block placed on the lines.


The IDF had earlier announced it planned to disrupt the boats' communications as part of Israel's efforts to prevent the activists on board from speaking to the press. Berlin said they had other means of communication on board, but refused to elaborate.


She said all of the boats had set sail by 9:20 am, but that she did not know how long it would take to reach Gaza's shores. "The ships are pretty slow, they sail at a speed of around 20 nautical miles an hour," she said. On land, that is the equivalent of 37 kph.


The sailing already has been delayed several times. On Sunday morning live feed from one of the boats was renewed after having been off the air for a few hours.


Meanwhile the Navy is preparing to intercept the boats. One of the organizers, Dror Feiler, told Army Radio Sunday that the hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists aboard the ships will passively resist if Israeli seamen board the vessels.


"Israel has no right to invade the ships. It would be a foolish decision on its part," another activist said.


The organizers have claimed that unknown persons damaged two of the boats. One of them was forced to withdraw from the flotilla and the other docked at Cyprus's Turkish shore for repairs, causing further delay. They said the boats had undergone extensive mechanical tests before setting off, and that they had no problems.


Many on board the flotilla accuse Israel of orchestrating most of the issues that have delayed the sail. But an Israeli official denied the claims, saying they were "a fiction created in order to make excuses for the flotilla's lacking organization".


AP contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 05.30.10, 10:12
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