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Oic arab league urged to join free Gaza sailing

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OIC, Arab League are urged to join Free Gaza sailing whose activists arrived Gaza port, bringing half-ton of medical supplies.

Activists and dignitaries with the Free Gaza movement defied an Israeli blockade for the second time in three months on Wednesday when their ship, the SS Dignity, arrived on the beach at Gaza on Thursday morning.

The 20-metre (65-foot) ship "Dignity" arrived in Gaza at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) after departing from Cyprus on Tuesday afternoon to protest against the Israeli sanctions.

Twenty-seven crew and passengers from 13 countries were on board along with a half-ton of medical supplies.

The ship was warmly welcomed by Palestinian officials and ordinary people.

The Gaza Strip’s 1.5 million people have suffered under an Israeli-led blockade since June 2007. Israel has imposed restrictions on the quantities of vital goods, including food, fuel, medical supplies and construction materials that are allowed to enter the tiny Strip.

The activists plan to remain in the Strip for four days, Jamal al-Khodary, the head of Gaza-based Popular Committee Against the Siege, said.

Palestinian call

The secretary general of the Hamas government cabinet in the Gaza Strip, Muhammad Awad called on Arab countries’ leaders, secretary of the Arab League and the secretary general of the Islamic conference to sail to the Gaza Strip as a proof that they are supporting the Palestinian people.

The Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative, Mustafa Barghouthi, was on board SS Dignity. He said that he finally succeeded in enter the Gaza Strip after Israeli authorities denied him entry for over two years, reported Maan news agency.

"We have people from the West Bank, Jerusalem and Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 which indicate that the Palestinian people are united," Barghouthi said.

He added, "We saw how international solidarity with the Palestinian people was strong as those activists sailed in a boat which is not equipped for long journeys."

Hope over ferry line

Two of the members of the initial Free Gaza crew have begun fundraising for a project called Aloha Palestine! which aims at establishing a permanent humanitarian ferry line between Gaza City and Cyprus.

Mairead Corrigan Maguire, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work in Northern Ireland, was among the 27 people from 13 countries on the boat, which carried a tonne of medical supplies.

The US-based Free Gaza Movement first made the crossing in August to highlight the plight of 1.5 million Gazans who remain under a crippling Israeli blockade on the impoverished coastal strip.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman had said the Israeli navy would not allow the boat that left Larnaca on Tuesday to reach Gaza. He later said the decision had been changed.

"We got a list of zero stock medicines in Gaza, like baby formula, paracetamol, anti-histamine tablets," said Palestinian Briton Ibrahim Hamami, 44, a family physician.

Israel pulled troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005 but still patrols its waters. It tightened overland border restrictions after Hamas took over.

World Bulletin / News Desk


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