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Jewish blockade boat finally sets sail

    A boat carrying a group of Jewish pro-Palestinian activists finally set sail for Gaza this week with the aim of breaking Israel's naval blockade.

    The boat left a port in Cyprus on Sunday morning and was due to arrive on Tuesday, after the JC went to press.

    The vessel was named Irene after Irene Bruegel, the late founder-secretary of Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP), one of the groups which helped organise the trip.

    Ten passengers and crew were on board, from Britain, Germany and the US. They aimed to deliver cargo including fishing nets, musical instruments and textbooks to the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.

    Richard Kuper of JfJfP said the vessel was a "symbolic act of protest" and "a message of solidarity to Palestinians and Israelis who seek peace and justice".

    He said: "Israeli government policies are not supported by all Jews. We call on all governments and people around the world to speak and act against the occupation and the siege."

    He said the mission was non-violent and that activists would not engage in physical confrontation with Israeli naval forces if asked to divert to the port of Ashdod.

    Passengers included 82-year-old Holocaust survivor Reuven Moskovitz and Israeli Rami Elhanan, whose daughter Smadar was killed in a suicide bombing in 1997.

    The boat was captained by British JfJfP member Glyn Secker.

    It was originally intended to set sail in July but was delayed due to a funding shortfall.

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