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      First Flotilla Ship En Route to Gaza

      Deciding not to rendezvous with other Gaza flotilla ships, French vessel 'Dignity' is said to be instead sailing straight for Gaza.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 6/29/2011, 9:49 PM / Last Update: 6/29/2011, 10:51 PM

      Free Gaza

      The first of this year’s Freedom Flotilla 2 ships set sail for confrontation with Israel's navy Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

      A French ship called 'Dignity' decided to skip the rendezvous with the other vessels participating in the Gaza flotilla on Saturday and opted to sail directly for Gaza instead. Flotilla organizers, maintaining 'operational security,' refused to officially confirm the ship is approaching the region.

      Jordanian activists earlier this week said they purchased an additional ship for $805,000 to represent the Arab world after the infamous IHH sponsored Mavi Marmara was refused sailing permits by Turkey's government.

      During the 2010 flotilla self-described 'peace activists' aboard the Mavi Marmara attempted to lynch members of Israel's Shayatet-13, or naval commando, who boarded the vessel in accordance with international maritime law.  Nine members of the mob were killed when the imperiled comrades were forced to open fire to rescue them.

      Reports have circulated that participants in this year’s flotilla also intend to do Israeli soldiers harm.

      The Jordanian ship will carry 35 activists, many of them from Islamic societies. The organizers said that the flotilla will set sail on Thursday but noted there may be delays due to allegations of Israeli sabotage and Greek officials refusing to issue permits to some of the participating vessels.

      "One ship was damaged and two others are being detained over bureaucratic claims," Hawida Araf of the Free Gaza movement told reporters "We will pass the checks as these ridiculous claims are baseless. The ships have already been checked."

      The organizers say that claims against the American ship and the Greek-Swedish ship are causing the delays in Greece. The activists maintain that Israel sabotaged one ship which resulted in heavier security.

      "The damage was done underwater with a machine that can cut through steel. It could not have happened accidentally. I can't say Israeli soldiers did it, but who else wants to stop us?" Araf asked.

      Various reports concerning the Irish ship have also surfaced. Sources claimed it was heading towards the rendezvous point, but  later retracted their statements. It is apparently docking at an undisclosed port in the Mediterranean to avoid delays in Greece.

      Meanwhile, the organizers are disappointed in the limited turnout. Less than 300 are expected to board the flotilla ships this year as several western european governments advised their citizens not to participate and the United States said its own citizens could be subject to prosecution.

      According to the organizers, the Italian ship Stefano Chiarim will carry the most passengers with 65 people; Canadian ship Tahrir will carry 48 passengers and the American vessel, which is currently detained in Greece, will carry 40 passengers.

      An additional seven ships are expected to depart from Spain, France, Ireland, Greece, Sweden and Norway. Organizers expect 292 participants and 36 members of the press. It is highly likely not all of the vessels will be fit to travel.

      Israel has said it will interdict any ship attempting to violate Israel's embargo of Gaza, which Israel says is necessary to prevent arms smuggling to the Hamas terror-organization.

      Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu authorized Israel's Navy to use 'any means necessary'