Another voyage set for Gaza peace ship

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NICOSIA: A dozen European politicians, most of them British, plan to travel aboard the next ship sailing from Cyprus to breach the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, organizers told AFP Wednesday.

After completing a second successful attempt last week, peace activists will ferry the politicians to the Hamas-ruled territory on Friday to assess the humanitarian crisis there.

Parliamentarians from Italy, Switzerland and Ireland will also be on board.

The 20-foot “Dignity is set to depart the southern port of Larnaca and would also carry more medical supplies and equipment.

The movement is organizing the trip because it said Egypt refused access to Gaza across its border to 53 international parliamentarians.

“Egypt did not allow us to enter Gaza via the Rafah terminal, but this will not stop us from visiting the area. We shall break the siege, said Lord Nazir Ahmad, head of the delegation.

British MP Clare Short, a former minister for international development, said “the Egyptian refusal to grant us access through Rafah crossing is insulting to all of us, and Egypt should open the crossing now.

The politicians will visit hospitals and deliver a ton of medical supplies.

They also plan to meet with some of the 700 students who have been denied the right to leave Gaza and study at universities that have accepted them.

This voyage will be the third such trip to Gaza in as many months to protest against the Israeli sanctions imposed after Hamas seized power there in June 2007. Free Gaza first made the crossing in August to highlight the plight of the impoverished territory’s 1.5 million residents.

Israel had warned the activists ahead of both journeys not to enter the closed military zone it maintains around the Gaza Strip but did not obstruct either voyage.

Israel has sealed Gaza off from all but limited humanitarian aid since Hamas drove out forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a week of deadly street fighting.-AFP

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