Twenty seven people from 13 countries sailed from Larnaca, pledging to reach the shores of the Palestinian territory by Wednesday with a tonne of medical supplies.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel would not allow members of the U.S.-based Free Gaza Movement to anchor in Gaza, home to 1.5 million Palestinians.
“We are determined to get to Gaza,” said Mairead Corrigan Maguire, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work in Northern Ireland. “The Gaza people have been cut off from the whole world for two years, its the largest prison in the world.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross said last week that virtually no medical supplies were reaching the Gaza Strip, putting the lives of several hundred patients at risk.
The ICRC blamed the crisis on lack of cooperation between Palestinian authorities in the West Bank, where President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction holds sway, and Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in June 2007.
“We got a list of zero stock medicines in Gaza, like baby formula, paracetamol, anti-histamine tablets,” said Palestinian Briton Ibrahim Hamami, 44, a family physician from Buckingham’s hire who was making the trip.
“There are basic things we can get over the counter in Europe but they do not have a single pill.”
It was the second attempt by the “Free Gaza” movement to sail to Gaza, after 46 activists on two boats sailed there without interference from Israeli authorities in August.
Israel pulled its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 but still patrols waters off the territory.
Financial Mirror, October 29, 2008