Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jews to send Gaza blockade-buster ship

Jews to send Gaza blockade-buster ship

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A group of Jewish activists in Germany are preparing to send an aid ship to the Gaza Strip, which has been under an Israeli-imposed blockade for three years.

The group, which is the German branch of the European Jews for a Just Peace, plans to send the aid ship by the end of July.

"We want to break the Gaza occupation and end the occupation of the West Bank as well... we as Jews want to bring the Palestinians something other than bombs," Kate Katzenstein-Leiterer, a member of the executive committee of the group, said on Thursday.

The ship will be carrying school supplies, musical instruments, children's clothing and other children items that Israel has forbidden, such as sweets and chocolates, Spiegel Online reported.

About 16 people will be onboard the vessel. However, a lot of activists form around the world are sending requests to join the group, including some volunteers from Israel, Katzenstein-Leiterer said.

European Jews for a Just Peace has been collecting funds for the aid ship since 2008.

After Israel's bloody assault on the Freedom Flotilla on May 31, interest in the project has increased and donations have been flooding to the group, Katzenstein-Leiterer said.

Edith Lutz, another member the European Jews for a Just Peace, said that the group was in contact with Israeli officials.

"We are in contact with the Israeli government and the embassy in Berlin. We informed them a while ago," she was quoted by AFP as saying.

However, the group is concern over the possibility of an Israeli attack on the ship.

Israel has put Gaza Strip under all-out blockade, preventing international aid groups from entering the region.

On May 31, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which was carrying food and medical supplies to Gaza, came under fire early in the morning by Israeli navy forces in international waters.

Twenty international activists were killed in the deadly assault and 50 others were injured in the incident.

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