A cargo ship carrying activists and supplies set sail Tuesday from Lebanon en route to the Gaza Strip in defiance of an Israeli blockade on the coastal Palestinian territory, organizers said.
The Togo-flagged ship "Tali" is carrying about 60 tons of medicine, food, toys, books and stationery, as well as eight activists and journalists. The ship set sail from Tripoli in northern Lebanon. It plans to stop in Larnaca, Cyprus, for inspection before continuing to Gaza, where organizers say it is scheduled to arrive midweek.
The trip has not been cleared by Israeli authorities, who have turned back similar aid boats trying to reach Gaza, said one of the journey's organizers, Hani Suleiman.
On Monday, organizers had to change ships after they were told by port authorities that the boat they were planning to sail was unsafe. But the second ship, the “Tali,” was not equipped to carry the 80 Lebanese and foreign activists and journalists who were planning to set sail. Only eight people ended up boarding the ship just after midnight.
Maan Bashour, a pro-Palestinian Lebanese leftist involved in the organization of the trip, said the remaining activists were trying to find another boat to take them to Gaza.
“There will be other boats,” Bashour told The Associated Press. “We will keep sending them. The whole point is to tell the world that the Lebanese people reject the (Israeli) blockade on Gaza.”
One of those on board is Theresa McDermott, Free Gaza volunteer who was also a passenger on the first Free Gaza boat, which reached Gaza in August 2008.