JERUSALEM (JTA) — A trawler left Sweden on its way to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip 5,000 nautical miles away.
The Marianne of Gothenburg departed on Sunday evening and is the first ship in the Freedom Flotilla III to leave for Gaza, according to the website of the Ship to Gaza Sweden campaign.
The boat, which was purchased jointly by the Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway, is carrying solar panels and medical equipment, according to Ship to Gaza Sweden, along with five crew members and eight passengers.
The Ship to Gaza organization is calling for an immediate end to the naval blockade of Gaza; opening of the Gaza Port; and secure passage for Palestinians between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Sweden officially recognized the state of Palestine last October.
Among the passengers are Israeli-born Swedish citizen Dror Feiler, a musician and spokesman of Ship to Gaza; Dr. Henry Ascher, a professor of public health and pediatrician; Lennart Berggren, a filmmaker; Maria Svensson, pro tem spokeswoman of the Feministiskt initiative; and Mikael Karlsson, chairman of Ship to Gaza Sweden.
The boat is named after Marianne Skoog, a veteran member of the Swedish Palestine Solidarity movement, who died in May 2014.
The Freedom Flotilla’s first attempt to break the blockade ended in the deaths of nine Turkish activists after Israeli Navy commandos on May 31, 2010 boarded the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid, after warning the ship not to sail into waters near the Gaza Strip in circumvention of Israel’s naval blockade of the coastal strip. A second attempt was turned back in October 2012.
The Marianne will stop at ports in Helsingborg, Malmo and Copenhagen, as well as others to be announced later, according to the Ship to Gaza Sweden website.