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Middle East

Rights groups: flotilla to break Gaza blockade

A Palestinian woman sits with two boys at the edge of a crater left where her home used to be and which was completely demolished by an Israeli airstrike in Jabalya, northern Gaza Strip August 11, 2014. (AFP Photo/Roberto Schmidt)

ISTANBUL: A group of human rights organizations said Tuesday that they are organizing a flotilla of vessels that will attempt to breach Israel's blockade of Gaza later this year.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition said it plans to sail to Gaza "during 2014." It did not specify how many vessels would participate, but said the flotilla was "a reflection of the growing worldwide solidarity with the Palestinian people; from the U.S. to Malaysia, from Scandinavia to South Africa."

The group said the boats would also be carrying "Palestinian commercial products purchased by buyers worldwide to complete the work of Gaza's Ark," a cargo boat built by the FFC and Palestinians that the group said was bombed on July 11.

It said it will also organize demonstrations in ports worldwide in coming months.

"Along with other projects, the initiative will support the right of Palestinians to operate international marine lines in and out of the port of Gaza," the group said.

The group organized two previous flotillas, in 2010 and in 2011. During the first, Israeli forces stormed the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, killing nine people on board. The incident led to a breakdown in Turkish-Israeli relations.

Israel says it imposed the blockade in 2007 to prevent Palestinian militants bringing weapons into Gaza.

 

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