Ship convoy headed to Gaza refuses letter for Shalit


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Pro-Palestinian activists on a convoy of ships planning to dock in Gaza port refused to bring a letter to Gilad Shalit from his family.

The Freedom Flotilla, organized by the Free Gaza group, left from ports in Ireland, Greece and Turkey last week and is scheduled to arrive Thursday off the coast of Gaza.

On Thursday, Noam Shalit, father of the Israeli soldier who has been held captive in Gaza for four years, asked the leaders of the flotilla to take the letter and a package to Hamas leaders to give to his son, offering in exchange to try to convince the Israeli government to allow the convoy to land in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s forum of seven Cabinet ministers on Wednesday decided that Israel’s Navy would prevent the convoy from reaching Gaza, including by using force, and would deport the hundreds of activists aboard to their countries of origin.

The humanitarian aid on board the ships, including food, clothing and construction materials, will be transferred to Gaza, however.

The Navy has held several drills to prepare for turning back the convoy, including preparing for violence.

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