Aid boat carrying Jewish and Israeli activists headed for Gaza Strip
Israel urged pro-Palestinian activists to deliver the supplies to Gaza through "established channels," as a Gaza-bound aid boat carrying Jewish activists from Israel and Europe set sail from northern Cyprus on Sunday, Xinhua reported.
"Like previous flotillas, this is merely a provocation," an Israeli Foreign Ministry official told Xinhua on Sunday, adding that "we hope the organizers ... will send their supplies through the established channels, like the Red Cross."
The activists onboard the catamaran Irene represent a host of pro-Palestinian Jewish human rights organizations, including the U. K.-based Jews for Justice for Palestinians, European Jews for a Just Peace and Jewish Voice for Peace.
The activists plan to deliver textbooks, medical supplies and toys to Gaza.
Richard Kuper, one of the organizers, said the activists wish to show that not all Jews back Israel's policies towards the Palestinians.
He also said the activists will not resist possible attempts by the Israel Defense Forces to prevent the ship from reaching the Gaza shore.
Nine activists were killed on May 31 when Israeli naval commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, one of a six-vessel humanitarian aid flotilla which headed to Gaza. Several soldiers were also wounded in the violent clash with the activists.
It is yet unclear how the IDF plans to deal with the latest boat, slated to arrive in Gaza over the next two days. The IDF Spokesman's unit on Sunday declined to comment on the matter.
"It's a boat with only nine people. It should not pose too many problems," a government official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Activists aboard the Irene include Jonathan Shapira, a former pilot in the Israeli Air Force and a harsh critic of what he calls Israel's oppression of the Palestinians, and Reuven Moskovitch, an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor.
"We don't intend to confront or resort to violence if the Israeli forces try to stop the voyage, but we will also not assist them in leading the boat to the port," local news service Ynet quoted Shapira as saying.