Peaceful sail?
Photo: AFP
Photo: Meir Azulay
Yonatan Shapira
Photo: Meir Azulay

Leftists aim to break Gaza siege

'Jewish vessel' carrying nine human rights activists from Israel, Germany, US and Britain – including Holocaust survivor – sets sail from Cyprus to deliver medicine, toys to Strip. Passengers say will not resist if ordered to stop

A boat carrying human rights activists from Israel, Germany, the United States and Britain has reportedly set sail for Gaza Sunday, hoping to breach Israel's blockade there and deliver aid.


Richard Kuper, an organizer with the UK group "Jews for Justice for Palestinians," said one goal is to "show that not all Jews support Israeli policies toward Palestinians."


Kuper added that the boat, which set sail from northern Cyprus, will not resist if Israeli authorities try to stop it. The trip comes nearly four months after Israeli commandos boarded a flotilla of Gaza-bound ships, killing nine activists.


The 33-foot "Irene" is sailing under a British flag and is carrying a total of nine passengers and crew members, plans to deliver children's toys, medical equipment and other supplies to Gaza. Its journey to Gaza should, in theory, last for about 36 hours.


"It is a sacred duty for me as a Holocaust survivor to protest against the persecution, oppression and imprisonment of so many people, including over 800,000 children in Gaza," explained 82-years-old Reuven Moshkovitz, one of the passengers.

Yonatan Shapira's brother, Itamar (Photo: AFP)


Yonatan Shapira, a peace activist aboard the Irene, added that "We have a strategy of non-violence and non-confrontation, if the Israeli army stopped the boat, we will divert it to the port (of Ashdod).


"We have a clear mission, to break the blockade. The Greek police just haled us to change our flag, no that we are it Greece's territorial water. We left around 1 PM and I hope we will arrive in Gaza in the next two days.


"We planned to leave before today, but there were delays in building the ship. We have finally gathered all of our passengers and we are on our way."


Shapira first became a public figure in 2003, as one of 27 Israel Air Force pilots who published an open letter to the government, saying they will refuse any order they deem illegal to execute in the West Bank.


More recently, he gain notoriety after spray painting graffiti on one of the walls of the Warsaw ghetto in Poland.


The Associated Press and AFP contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 09.26.10, 13:40
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