Israeli blockade allows aid boat into Gaza

A boat carrying humanitarian aid has been allowed to pass through an Israeli naval blockade to dock in the Gaza Strip. A blockade of the stricken Palestinian territory has been in place since Hamas took control of Gaza last year.


AFP - A boat carrying humanitarian aid docked in the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning after being allowed through an Israeli naval blockade of the poverty-stricken territory, an AFP correspondent reported.

The 20-metre (66 foot) Dignity left the Cypriot port of Larnaca on Friday evening and was allowed in after having been stopped at sea and searched.

"Israeli security intercepted our boat at sea. It carried out an identity check, searched the boat and allowed us to continue our voyage towards Gaza," said Aed Qahtany, from a Qatari group.

Among the 17 people on board were three Lebanese and four Qataris, as well as two Israelis, one of them a journalist, the correspondent reported.

The cargo consisted of baby milk and a tonne of medicines, according to Amjad al-Shawa, coordinator of the campaign.

"The whole Qatari population and its government stand alongside the Palestinian people and particularly alongside Palestinians who are subject to the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip," Qahtany told AFP.

Neta Golan, an Israeli woman who lives in the West Bank city of Ramallah called on other activists to mobilise.

"We still need more help from people who support the Palestinians to help the Palestinian resistance liberate Gaza," Golan, the founder of the International Solidarity Movement, told AFP.

On previous missions in August, October and November, Israel warned it would not let the British-owned vessel through but did not stop it.

However, a Libyan boat carrying humanitarian aid was forced to turn back earlier this month.

The blockade, in force since the Islamist Hamas movement seized power in Gaza last year, was stepped up early last month after an upturn in violence in and around the Gaza Strip.

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