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Ynet: Boat arrives in Gaza to protest blockade

Free Gaza group boat carrying 27 passengers including Nobel Peace Prize winner to remain in Strip for four days in protest of blockade

By Associated Press and Yael Levy

To view original article, published by Ynet on the 29th of October, click here

A boat loaded with international protesters has arrived in the Gaza Strip to bring attention to Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled territory.

The 27 passengers, coming together from 13 different countries include Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead McGuire, Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti, and Israeli leftist Gideon Spiro. Israeli MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) who was reportedly supposed to join the voyage, was not present on the boat.

They are scheduled to remain in Gaza for four days.

The boat chartered by the US-based Free Gaza group sailed from the nearby island of Cyprus on Tuesday and arrived in Gaza in pouring rain early Wednesday. Israel said it would block the boat, but navy ships did not interfere.

Angela Godfrey Goldstein of the Free Gaza group told Ynet, “We are very pleased, and I believe people in Gaza are pleased as well and hope that Gaza’s sea border remains open from now on.”

Godfrey Goldstein said the passengers on the boat were surprised to find no resistance by the Israeli Navy and were able to anchor without any problems.

“I think the navy understands very well that they are not operating in Israel’s territorial water, and therefore cannot get involved,” Godfrey Goldstein said.

According to Godfrey Goldstein, during Free Gaza’s last voyage in August, the group received many requests from Palestinians who asked to get on their boats to get out of the Strip.

“The time has come to really open Gaza’s sea border,” she said, “We, as people of peace, are working towards this goal.”

Israel imposed a blockade of Gaza after the Islamic group Hamas violently seized control of the territory in June 2006. Israel tightened the sanctions because of rocket fire at Israeli towns.

The sides are currently observing a truce and the flow of goods into Gaza has slightly increased.