Palestinian Aid Flotilla Getting Set to Approach Gaza

Palestinian Aid Flotilla Getting Set to Approach Gaza
# 29 May 2010 17:54 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Pro-Palestinian activists are pressing on with plans to land a convoy of ships on the Gaza Strip Sunday despite technical delays and warnings from the Israeli navy, APA reports quoting website.

The flotilla, carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian supplies and hundreds of activists, was off the coast of Cyprus Saturday, preparing for departure.

The aid mission has been delayed by complications. Organizers say technical problems have reduced the flotilla from eight ships to five. They are also having a hard time arranging to get a group of European legislators on board the ships.

Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, reiterated Saturday that the military will not allow the ships to reach the Palestinian territory. He has called the aid mission a provocation.

The activists are seeking to circumvent a blockade on the Gaza Strip that Israel and Egypt put in place in 2007 after the Islamic militant group Hamas took control of the territory.

The Hamas leader in Gaza, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, welcomed the expected shipment for challenging the blockade.

During an appearance at the port where the ships hope to land, Haniyeh said the mission would be a victory for the territory.

Israeli authorities say that while they want to minimize violence, the navy will intercept the ships once they enter Israeli territorial waters and tow the vessels to the port of Ashdod. From there it is expected that any foreign nationals aboard will be deported.

The United Nations has called on all of the parties involved in the dispute to exercise restraint.
The aid convoy left from Mediterranean ports in Europe and Turkey over the past week. Activists on board include human-rights workers and lawmakers from a several European countries.