Flotilla to break Gaza blockade leaves last port


A flotilla of boats planning to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip left a Greek port.

The five Freedom Flotilla III boats, which left Crete on Thursday, are scheduled to arrive near the Gaza coast in three days.

The boats are carrying solar panels and medical equipment, according to Ship to Gaza Sweden.

The lead boat, the Marianne of Gothenburg, is carrying passengers including Israeli-born Swedish citizen Dror Feiler, a musician and spokesman of Ship to Gaza; Kajsa Ekis Ekman, a Swedish journalist, author and social critic; Robert Lovelace, a Canadian scholar and activist;  and Ana Maria Miranda Paza, a Spanish member of the European Parliament.

Arab-Israeli lawmaker Basel Ghattas of the Joint Arab List also boarded the boat in Greece.

The Freedom Flotilla’s first attempt to break the blockade ended in the deaths of nine Turkish activists in May 2010. Israeli Navy commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid, after warning the ship not to sail into waters near the Gaza Strip in circumvention of Israel’s naval blockade of the coastal strip.

A second attempt was turned back in October 2012.

The Ship to Gaza organization is calling for an immediate end to the naval blockade of Gaza; opening of the Gaza Port; and secure passage for Palestinians between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu orders pro-Palestinian ‘fly-in’ activists be stopped


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the country’s security services to prevent pro-Palestinian fly-in activists from entering the country.

“Every country has the right to prevent the entry of provocateurs into its borders,” Netanyahu said Wednesday at Ben Gurion Airport during a meeting with security services officials.

He told the officials to “act with determination, while trying to avoid unnecessary friction” with the hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists who reportedly are planning to fly to Israel’s international airport to protest the country’s policies toward the Palestinians.

Activists hope the “fly-in,” scheduled for July 8, will disrupt airport operations, including departing and arriving flights. Most of the activists are from Europe, according to reports.

The activists plan to declare “Palestine” as their destination once they land in Israel, according to reports. They face being denied entry to Israel and deportation. They reportedly will demonstrate if denied entry.

Hundreds of additional police and Border Guard officers have been stationed at the airport in preparation for the fly-in, Ynet reported.

Israel often prevents international activists it believes are planning disruptive demonstrations to enter the country

The activists who are allowed in to the country plan to tour Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, and the Jordan Valley, and to take part in solidarity activities with the Palestinians, as part of the Welcome Palestine event sponsored by 40 pro-Palestinian groups.

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