JERUSALEM: A boat carrying pro-Palestinian advocates from eight countries is en route to Gaza in the latest attempt to break Israel’s naval blockade on the coastal territory, an activist on board said yesterday.
Dror Feiler, an Israeli on the boat, said it left Naples on Sunday and aims to reach Gaza in mid-October. He said the boat is carrying items such as cement, basketballs, musical instruments and theater lighting equipment.
Israel imposed the blockade after Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2007. Palestinians and their backers consider the blockade illegal collective punishment against the people of Gaza. Legal experts at the UN, along with the Red Cross, have said the blockade is illegal.
An Israeli naval raid in 2010 killed nine Turkish activists on board another Gaza-bound flotilla. While many consumer goods now flow into Gaza through an Israeli-controlled crossing, some restrictions, including limits on exports, imports of key construction goods and the naval blockade, remain in place.
The Israeli military would not say whether it plans to stop the boat, saying in a statement only that it will “continue to ensure that the maritime restrictions near the Gaza Strip, instituted to prevent weapons transfers, are maintained.”
It said the aid on the boat should be delivered to Gaza through authorized Israeli-controlled crossings.