"There is no connection between my boats and Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran," said Palestinian businessman Yasser Kashlak, who is organizing a two-vessel sail to Gaza as part of the effort to break Israel's naval blockade.
One of the ships, the Naji el-Ali, is set to carry 25 European activists (including parliament members) and some 50 journalists. The sail is being organized by the Free Palestine Movement, which is headed by Kashlak.
The second ship, the Mariam, is expected to carry medicines and additional humanitarian aid.
Kashlak said he is funding the voyage but did not say when the vessels are expected to depart or whether they would leave together. "Israel's threat to use force against the two vessels will not prevent us from achieving our legitimate goal, which is to break the savage Israeli blockade on Gaza.
"Israel's claim that the two vessels belong to Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas is a cheap attempt to distort the facts and is merely an excuse to attack the boats and kill the activists on board," he said.
During a press conference held by Kashlak and some of his European colleagues on Sunday, Greek activist Basias Ivangelos said, "During World War Two more than 2,000 people form the Greek isles fled the Nazis on boat and were welcomed in Gaza with open arms. Israel's actions to prevent the vessels from reaching Gaza go against history, culture and human rights."