30 May 2010

Showdown Coming off Coast of Gaza

There's a flotilla of "humanitarian aid" headed to Gaza, and the Israelis have threatened to interdict it.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists on seven ships prepared to set sail for the Gaza Strip on Sunday from international waters close to Cyprus, edging closer to an expected naval showdown as Israeli officials warned they would halt the flotilla from reaching the blockaded territory.

The ships are expected to reach Gaza on Monday, organizers said.

Greta Berlin, one of the flotilla's coordinators, said the ships briefly set sail early Sunday from Cyprus, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) northwest of Gaza, but then stopped after moving about 25 miles (40 kilometers) to finish loading passengers. "There's no way they'll get there before Monday morning," she said.

The flotilla of seven ships are carrying thousands of tons of supplies, including materials that Israel prevents from reaching Gaza freely, like cement and other building materials. The activists say they are also carrying hundreds of electrical-powered wheelchairs, prefabricated homes and water purifiers.

Some 750 pro-Palestinian activists are also on the boats, including Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, European legislators and an elderly Holocaust survivor.

The activists say they are seeking to defy Israel and Egypt's blockade on the Gaza Strip, imposed after the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power of the territory in June 207.

Israeli officials have vowed to block the flotilla's arrival, viewing it as a provocation.

Y'know, maybe Gaza wouldn't be under a blockade if (a) the people in charge would quit vowing to destroy Israel, (b) the population of Gaza quit putting those people in power, and (c) they quit shooting rockets at Israel.
But when the biggest industrial base in Gaza is the manufacture of suicide bomb belts and unguided rockets aimed at civilian neighborhoods over the border, it's hard to feel a lot of sympathy for the Gazans.

By: Brant

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