The Rachel Corrie, a solidarity ship, sets sail from Ireland to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip which is struggling with a three-year Israeli-imposed blockade.
The 1,200-ton cargo ship — part of an eight-vessel flotilla dubbed the "Freedom Flotilla" — is also taking peace activists from nearly 40 countries, and will be joined by ships from Turkey and Greece.
The ship, which departed from Ireland on Saturday, will bring aid materials such as cement, paper, medical equipment, school supplies and several other materials to the Gazans.
An Israeli blockade, in place since June 2007, prevents even the most essential supplies from entering the Gaza Strip.
Israel says it will not allow solidarity ships to reach the Gaza coast. Media reports indicate that the Israeli Navy was ordered to prevent the humanitarian ships from reaching Gaza, even if this means using military force against the civilian ships and activists.
“The siege on Gaza is a disgrace for the entire international community. It is a camp that is worse than the camps of the Nazis in the past. The world must uphold its responsibility," said UN General Assembly President, Dr. Ali Abdussalam Treki on Friday.
The Freedom Flotilla is organized by an international coalition that includes the Free Gaza Movement, the Turkish Humanitarian Aid Foundation, the European Committee Against the Siege and several Malaysian, Greek and Irish institutions.
The ship is named after Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza in 2003.