GAZA CITY: Leaders of Israel s Arab community said Wednesday they will sail to Gaza on a boat laden with humanitarian supplies to challenge their government s blockade of the territory.
The Israeli Arabs would also defy their country s own ban on citizens visiting Gaza with their voyage, set for Sunday.
Israel and Egypt closed its borders with Gaza after the Islamic Hamas seized power last year, allowing in only humanitarian aid, fuel and a trickle of goods. Israel has tightened its closure Gaza Nov. 5, trying to force Palestinian insurgents to halt renewed rocket fire.
The territory suffers widespread power blackouts and shortages of cooking gas as a result.
Pro-Palestinian Western activists have sailed three boats into Gaza s port since the summer, breaking Israel s blockade, but this week Israel turned back a Libyan ship with 3,000 tons of supplies.
This would be the first seaborne aid shipment sent from Israel. Zahi Nujeidat of Israel s Islamic Movement said dozens of Israeli Arabs plan to sail to Gaza on Sunday from Israel s Jaffa port, next to Tel Aviv, a trip of about 65 km.
They plan to unload donated food and medicine, and stay for a few hours. This ship is an answer to the calls from help from Gaza, Nujeidat said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Andy David said Israeli citizens are not allowed to enter Gaza for their own safety.
Although it was unlikely Arab citizens, who share the same Palestinian ethnicity as Gaza residents, would be harmed in the coastal territory, David said there were also security concerns.