Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 17:51 pm (KSA) 14:51 pm (GMT)

Arabs against Israeli blockade sail to Gaza

The Qatari initiative marks the first successful attempt to break the blockade
The Qatari initiative marks the first successful attempt to break the blockade

A Qatari delegation of four along with three Lebanese activists and an Israeli journalist sailed into Gaza's port on Saturday to deliver humanitarian aid despite an Israeli naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled territory, marking the fifith voyage by the U.S.-based 'Free Gaza' movement and the first one to include Arab activists.

The first offical Arab delegation to sail to Gaza, the initiative coincided with the end of a six-month-old ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the enclave.

 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. 
Aed alQahtany, Qatari Activist

'The people of Qatar initiative' marks the second attempt of Arab countries to break the blockade on Gaza. A Libyan cargo ship, which was turned back after arriving at the Gaza port, was the first Arab initiative.

"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," Aed alQahtany, representing the Qatari group told AFP.

The four-person Qatari delegation comes from the government funded body: Qatar Authority for Charitable Activities.

"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 Qahtany.

"After we assess the situation there, we will go back to Qatar and let the people know how we can help...and see how we can work to help relieve this terrible situation in Gaza," he added.

Israel patrols the coastal waters around Gaza, but has not obstructed Free Gaza activists from sailing to the enclave. But earlier this month the Jewish state prevented a Libyan ship from delivering humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip and foiled an attempt by Israeli Arabs to set off in a boat from Israel to the territory.

"We hope it will be the beginning of Arab moves to break the blockade," Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza's Prime Minister said in an official statement.

Israel tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip two years ago after Hamas Islamists won a parliamentary election. Aid groups have warned of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza if the blockade is not eased.

Boat vs. cargo ship

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

While the Libyan ship, whose cargo was never delivered, carried a significant amount of 3000 tons of humanitarian aid, the 20-metre (66 foot) Dignity delivered a much smaller cargo consisting of baby milk, a ton of medicines and 20 satellite tracking devices to be installed on Palestinian fishing boats, Amjad al-Shawa, coordinator of the campaign told AFP.

"The effort is certainly symbolically significant but the amount of aid pails in comparison to what the Libyan cargo ship could have done for the people of Gaza," Zein Qadari, a Palestinian from Gaza told AlArabiya.net.

On Thursday the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, providing food aid to half the Gazan population, suspended distribution after announcing it had no stocks in its warehouses due to Israel's closure of crossings.

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

"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 said.

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