Jewish aid boat sets sail to Gaza

FAMAGOSTA, (PIC)– An aid ship organized by Jewish activists left the northern Cypriot port of Famagosta on Sunday heading to the Gaza Strip in a bid to break the siege imposed on one and a half million Palestinians for the fifth year running.

The boat named Irene is flying the British flag and is theoretically supposed to arrive at Gaza port within 36 hours.

Reuven Moskovitch, an 82-year-old holocaust survivor, described his trip aboard the boat in a statement to the AFP as a „sacred duty“ in his capacity as a holocaust survivor who should protest oppression and siege of this number of people including 800,000 children.

The boat is carrying 10 passengers and crew, including Jews from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Israel along with symbolic aid shipment of children toys, musical instruments, textbooks, fishing nets, and prosthetic limbs.

„The boat will attempt to reach the coast of Gaza and unload its aid cargo in a nonviolent, symbolic act of solidarity and protest — and call for the siege to be lifted to enable free passage of goods and people to and from the Gaza Strip,“ organizers said in a statement.

Cyprus blocks Gaza aid ship ‘Mariam’ from passing through its ports

BEIRUT, (PIC)– The organizers of the Gaza-bound humanitarian aid ship, Mariam, have discovered the possibility of changing its course towards Greece after Cypriot authorities announced they will not allow the ship to sail to Gaza from its ports.

The organizers said in a press statement on Saturday that contacts are being made with the Greek government while Cyprus insists on its decision to prohibit the ship’s passage.

Samar Hajj, an activist on board, told Reuters on Saturday: “I do not reel off … action is underway to find somewhere else (another port for sailing) … there are difficulties … we will not give up easily.”

“The trip was not cancelled … the Mariam voyage will be suspended because we are in a situation that requires suspending the journey,” said the ship’s spokeswoman Rima Farah.

She added that there is not enough time between now and 10:00 pm Sunday night (Greenwich time) – which is the scheduled time for the Mariam to set sail – to find another port to sail from.

Lebanese public works minister Gazi al-Aridi said yesterday that Mariam will not set sail to Cyprus after Cypriot authorities declined to welcome it.

Aridi noted that Mariam’s organizers requested permission to set sail to Cyprus and the ministry approved, but Cyprus authorities later rebuffed after increased complications.

Mariam, which carries women activists from Lebanon and the world over who will transport humanitarian aid, was set to sail Sunday from Tripoli, Lebanon to Cyprus, ahead of landing at its final destination in the besieged Gaza Strip, and will be followed by a second women-operated aid vessel from Tripoli called Naji al-Ali, which will be launched this Wednesday to Cyprus and then to Gaza.