(JTA) — A group of Americans have left for Athens to join a flotilla of ships planning to challenge Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The 36 American participants, as well as four crew members and nine journalists, are planning to sail on the American-flagged boat The Audacity of Hope in the 10-ship flotilla. One-quarter of the U.S. participants reportedly are Jewish. The U.S. ship will have no humanitarian aid or other cargo on board, according to reports.
Part of the flotilla is scheduled to set sail from Athens on June 25.
"It’s important that Jews are in this boat," New York labor attorney Richard Levy told AFP. "The Jewish lobby in this country is so powerful."
Nine Turkish activists aboard a flotilla last year were killed during clashes with Israeli Navy commandos trying to stop the ship, called the Mavi Marmara. IHH, the Turkish Islamic charity behind the flotilla effort, withdrew the Mavi Marmara from this year’s flotilla citing technical reasons.