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EU MPs to join Gaza blockade runners

By Yaacov Katz

To view original article, published in the Jerusalem Post on the 17th September, click here

The Free Gaza group, which last month claimed to break the Israeli siege over Gaza after it sailed two ships into Gaza’s harbor, plans to dispatch another ship from Cyprus later this month filled with doctors and European politicians to the Palestinian territory, organizers said Tuesday.

The ship is scheduled to set sail from Cyprus on September 22, Huwaita Arraf, one of the group’s organizers said. It will carry physicians traveling to Gaza to offer free medical service as well as some EU parliamentarians. Arraf would not reveal the lawmakers’ identities.

In addition to the ship from Cyprus, a Yemen-based group is also planning on sailing to the Gaza Strip.

Last month, two boats carrying a group of international pro-Palestinian activists set sail for Gaza from Cyprus. Initial fears that the Israeli Navy would block access to Gaza proved wrong. Israel decided to allow the ships to sail into and dock at the Gaza harbor.

Israeli defense officials said Tuesday that they were aware of the group’s plans to sail additional ships into Gaza and that a decision on whether to allow them into Gaza would be made closer to the date of arrival.

“We will have to see who is on the boat and what it is carrying,” one official said. “Our decision will be on a per-case basis.”

Arraf said that the group planned to set up a permanent sea line between Cyprus and Gaza to be used to import goods into the Strip. “From the beginning, we said it would not be a one-time thing,” she said.