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Latest Flotilla Ship Sails for Gaza from Naples

A Swedish ship with activists from several countries sails from Naples in the latest bid to break Israel's blockade on Gaza.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/7/2012, 3:31 AM

Estelle ship leaves from Naples to Gaza
Estelle ship leaves from Naples to Gaza
AFP/Maddalena Tartaro

A Swedish ship with activists from several countries aboard sailed from Naples on Saturday, in the latest bid to break Israel's blockade on Gaza, AFP reported.

The report said that a crowd of well-wishers saw off the sailing vessel Estelle as it left the Italian port as part of the "Freedom Flotilla" movement.

"We think it will take around two weeks to get to Gaza, but it will obviously also depend on the weather conditions," spokeswoman Ann Ighe said earlier.

The 17 activists from around the world on board The Estelle include passengers and crew from Canada, Israel, Norway, Sweden and the United States.

The first Freedom Flotilla in May 2010 ended when nine Turkish nationals were killed after Israeli commandos had to board the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, when it refused orders to change course. Upon boarding the ship, the soldiers were attacked by the so-called activists aboard with clubs and knives, and had no choice but to use live fire.

It was later proven that there was no humanitarian aid on the Marmara, as its passengers had claimed.

"When people think of flotillas, they think of the Mavi Marmara. But the Estelle is very different, she was chosen to change the perception of the campaign, to show that it's a non-violent campaign," Ighe said, according to AFP.

"It is a vessel that has travelled for Greenpeace protests and on fair-trade missions. The Estelle is a peaceful ship," she added.

Naples mayor Luigi de Magistris said Friday during a visit on board the Estelle, "This is not an initiative in favor of Hamas but in favor of Palestine, of the Palestinians who live in Gaza, and in favor of two states living as neighbors in peace and security."

The Estelle set off originally from Sweden and arrived in the Gulf of Naples on Thursday after a tour of Europe, including Finland, France and Spain.

A second attempt to break the blockade last summer with a coalition of ships setting sail from Athens failed after Greek authorities intercepted the boats, banning their departure and towing back into port those who tried to leave.