International activists say two ships carrying humanitarian assistance and pro-Palestinian campaigners have set sail from Turkey in a new attempt to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
A statement issued by the activists in the convoy named Freedom Waves to Gaza, said the mini-flotilla made up of one Irish vessel and one Canadian ship had left Fethiye on Turkey’s south coast on Wednesday afternoon and planned to arrive in Gaza on Friday, AFP reported.
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 worth of medicines.
Israeli blockade on the occupied Palestinian territories has caused a severe shortage of medical supplies, particularly in the Gaza Strip, according to a World Health Organization’s May 2010 resolution, which demanded that Tel Aviv end the siege immediately.
The international humanitarian mission is “to challenge Israel’s ongoing criminal blockade of the territory," the activists stated.
An activist on the Canadian ship said, "We have the wind of public opinion at our back and in our sails, which strengthens our resolve and determination to challenge the illegal blockade of Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants."
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.