Thursday Nov 03, 201106:25 AM GMT
Gaza-bound aid flotilla departs Turkey
Thu Nov 3, 2011 1:38AM
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Two Gaza-bound relief boats have set sail from Turkey carrying humanitarian relief aid to the besieged Palestinian territory in the newest attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the coastal enclave, Press TV reports.

The mini aid flotilla, called “Freedom Waves to Gaza” and made up of an Irish and a Canadian boat, left the Turkish port city of Fethiye on Wednesday afternoon, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Although the aid flotilla is scheduled to arrive in Gaza on Friday, the Israeli regime is reportedly preparing to launch an attack on the humanitarian convoy before it reaches its destination.

The Canadian ship Tahrir and the Irish ship Saoirse, which are now in international waters, are carrying 27 people, including journalists and crew members, along with 30,000 dollars worth of medicines.

Israeli blockade on Gaza has caused a severe shortage of medical supplies, according to a World Health Organization's May 2010 resolution, which demanded that Tel Aviv end the siege immediately.

The passengers on Freedom Waves to Gaza are from Canada, Ireland, Palestine, Egypt, the United States and Australia. They say their international humanitarian mission is "to challenge Israel's ongoing criminal blockade of the territory."

"The closure in Gaza began 20 years ago, so it has been an increasing closure, an increasing crackdown on their freedom of mobility, and it is high time that this blockade was ended," said David Heap of the Canadian boat.

"Of course we are listening to the voices of the Arab Spring. The boat's name is Tahrir. We obviously are in solidarity with all of the freedom movements in the region, but the critical need for us is to keep challenging and, in all of that turmoil, not forget that the Palestinians of Gaza are under blockade and do not have their freedom of movement," Heap added.

The Israeli military attacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters on May 31, 2010, killing nine Turkish activists on board the Mavi Marmara, which was part of the six-ship aid convoy.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have seriously deteriorated since Israel's assault on the humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean Sea.

The organizers of the latest flotilla said, in an attempt to prevent Israeli intervention, they had organized their mission secretly.

Gaza has been blockaded since 2007, a situation which has caused a decline in the standard of living and brought about unprecedented levels of unemployment and poverty.

Tel Aviv slightly eased the land blockade of Gaza after the May 2010 attack, allowing in more consumer goods. However, the naval siege of the Gaza Strip remains in place, exports are banned, and imports of raw materials and construction materials are restricted.

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