Gaza-bound boat leaves Cyprus


BERLIN (JTA) — An international coalition of Jewish groups attempting to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza set sail from Cyprus on a British-flagged boat.

The Irene, which left Sunday, is carrying 10 passengers and crew, including Jews from the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Israel.

Two British journalists also are on board, according to a news release issued Sunday by the organizing groups. The boat reportedly is also flying flags with "the names of dozens of Jews who have expressed their support for this action as a symbol of the widespread support for the boat by Jews worldwide."

The boat is carrying carrying a cargo of toys and medical equipment for distribution inside Gaza. The inventory is intended for delivery to the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.

The trip launch follows the release of the U.N. Human Rights Council report charging Israel with a breach of international law in its violent interception of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla on May 31. 

Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, speaking from London, said the ship’s launch is nonviolent. In the group’s statement, he said the mission was meant to show that "Israeli government policies are not supported by all Jews."

The boat’s passengers will not resist if Israeli authorities try to intercept it, Kuper said, "and will therefore not present the Israelis with any reason or excuse to use physical force or assault them." Israel has said it will intercept any ships attempting to break the blockade. 

Among the passengers are Holocaust survivor Reuven Moskovitz, 82, of Neve Shalom, Israel; Rami Elhanan, of Israel, who lost a daughter to a suicide bombing in 1997 and is a founding member of the Bereaved Families Circle of Israelis and Palestinians; Caron Angier of Britain, biographer of the  Auschwitz survivor and author Primo Levi; and Lilian Rosengarten of the United States, who was a refugee from Nazi Germany.


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