September 27, 2010
A boat carrying aid for Gaza's population and organized by Jewish groups worldwide has set sail from Cyprus.
The boat, Irene, is sailing under a British flag and is carrying ten passengers and crew, including Jews from the US, the UK, Germany and Israel as well as an Israeli journalist.
The boat's cargo includes symbolic aid in the form of children's toys and musical instruments, textbooks, fishing nets for Gaza's fishing communities and prosthetic limbs for orthopaedic medical care in Gaza's hospitals.
The receiving organization in Gaza is the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, directed by Gaza psychiatrist Dr. Eyad Sarraj.
The boat will attempt to reach the coast of Gaza and unload its aid cargo in a nonviolent, symbolic act of solidarity and protest - and call for the siege to be lifted to enable free passage of goods and people to and from the Gaza Strip.
The boat will fly multicolored peace flags carrying the names of dozens of Jews who have expressed their support for this action, as a symbol of the widespread support for the boat by Jews worldwide.
Speaking from London, a member of the organizing group, Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said today that the Jewish Boat to Gaza is a symbolic act of protest against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the siege of Gaza, and a message of solidarity to Palestinians and Israelis who seek peace and justice.
'Israeli government policies are not supported by all Jews,' said Kuper. 'We call on all governments and people around the world to speak and act against the occupation and the siege.'
Regarding the threat of interception by the Israeli navy, Kuper said 'This is a nonviolent action. We aim to reach Gaza, but our activists will not engage in any physical confrontation and will therefore not present the Israelis with any reason or excuse to use physical force or assault them.'
Passenger Reuven Moskovitz, 82, said that his life's mission has been to turn foes into friends. "We are two peoples, but we have one future", he said.