A humanitarian aid ship, which set sail from a port in Sweden, is now en route to the Gaza Strip to break Israel’s years-long blockade on the impoverished Palestinian territory.
The Marianne of Gothenburg, which is part of the Freedom Flotilla III, a peaceful movement to break the siege of Gaza, began its journey on Sunday.
It will stop at ports in Helsingborg, Malmö and Copenhagen and other ports to be announced later before continuing its way to Gaza.
The vessel is carrying solar panels, medical equipment as well as five crew members and eight passengers, according to a statement by the Ship to Gaza organization, one of two groups that purchased the vessel.
The organization has called for an immediate end to the naval blockade of Gaza, opening of the Gaza port and a secure passage for Palestinians between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israel has said that it will deny entry to what it calls unauthorized ships to Gaza.
Back in May 2010, Israel attacked a Gaza-bound civilian flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, killing nine Turkish citizens on board the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara. Some 50 other people who were part of the team on the six-ship convoy were also injured in the attack on the flotilla, which had set sail from Turkey to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza
The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007. The blockade, which has cut off the Palestinian territory from the outside world, has led to economic and humanitarian crises in the densely-populated enclave.
The people of Gaza are also grappling with repercussions of Israel’s devastating offensive last summer, which left some 2,200 people dead and demolished buildings and structures.