Dignity boat in June
Photo: AFP

Spokeswoman: Protest ship to reach Gaza soon

Carrying 16 passengers, boat left Greece with sole aim of 'making political statement,' organizer says

A pro-Palestinian activist says a ship trying to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip has set sail and should reach the territory by Monday.


Nahla Chahal says the ship, The Dignity al-Karama, was part of a larger protest flotilla that had hoped to break the blockade several weeks ago but was thwarted by Greece.



Speaking from France, Chahal said the Dignity left a Greek port late Saturday. It is carrying 16 passengers, including activists from France, Sweden and Canada as well as an Israeli newspaper correspondent and reporters from the Al-Jazeera satellite channel. She said the mission was solely to draw attention to the situation in Gaza.


"We are making a political statement, we are not carrying any aid," Chahal said.


On June 25, the Dignity left Corsica for Rhodes, then continued to Crete. It docked there for a week, waiting for the rest of the flotilla ships to be released.


When the Dignity's crew realized that Greece will not permit the other vessels to leave, six other activists joined its ranks, and the boat set out on its own. It was stopped by Greek authorities next to the island of Kastelorizo.


Eventually, the Greek coast guard cleared the Dignity for departure when the crew declared it intends to sail to Alexandria.


'10,000 rockets in Gaza'

The Israeli military declined comment, but has said it will stop any attempt to break the sea blockade of Gaza.


Israel imposed the naval blockade in 2007 after Hamas militants took over the coastal territory. Israel says it's a security measure, but critics say it amounts to collective punishment.


An Israeli raid on a flotilla last year killed nine Turkish activists. 


Also Sunday, IDF officials said militants have stepped up weapons smuggling into Gaza since the ouster of longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February.


The officials said armed groups in Gaza now possess some 10,000 rockets as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. Some of the rockets can strike deep into Israel.


The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a sensitive military assessment.



פרסום ראשון: 07.17.11, 19:09
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