An international flotilla seeking to challenge Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza is nearing its destination although its exact location is unknown, supporters said Saturday, according to AFP.
The three-vessel "Freedom Flotilla" left Palermo, Sicily, on July 21 and the first of them, the "Awda", or "Return" in Arabic, could arrive off the Gaza shore as early as Sunday, Pierre Stambul, co-president of the French Jewish Union for Peace said in an e-mail to AFP.
Stambul, who is not aboard, said that about 40 activists from 15 countries, including two from France were taking part.
As in previous attempts to breach the blockade, the ships were expected to be stopped at sea by the Israeli navy and taken to an Israeli port.
A video report posted online Saturday from onboard one of the ships, by Richard Sudan of Iran's Press TV UK, said that one of the smaller vessels had dropped out with an unspecified "problem".
"So two boats are now currently making their way toward the Gaza Strip," he said.
Passengers, he said, included journalists, activists and at least one lawmaker.
"There's a Jordanian MP on the other boast, the Awda, and various activists from across Europe," he said, adding that the blockade challenge "is a gesture of solidarity to the Palestinians."
"There is also some medical aid on board, although the amount of medical aid is merely a gesture,” he added. "We're talking just a few boxes."
In May, the IDF seized a boat which was launched from Gaza in an attempt to break Israel's partial blockade of the Hamas-run enclave.
The seized boat was launched as part of the “reverse flotilla," an attempt to mirror efforts by prior flotillas which attempted to force their way to the Gaza Strip from the Mediterranean by running the blockade in the opposite direction.
Israel has imposed a naval blockade on Gaza for over a decade, meant to prevent weapons from being transferred into the hands of Gaza terrorists.
Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers continuously claim the enclave is under an “Israeli siege”. This is despite the fact that Israel regularly allows humanitarian aid and construction materials into Gaza and does so even though Gaza terrorists continue to attack southern Israel with rockets and openly threaten to destroy the Jewish state.
There have been previous attempts to break the naval blockade on Gaza. The most notable was the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla, in which nine Turkish Islamists were killed as they ignored Israeli calls to turn the vessel around and dock at the Ashdod Port.
Upon inspection, it was discovered that there was no humanitarian aid whatsoever aboard the Marmara despite the Islamists’ claims otherwise.