A ship chartered by The Free Gaza Movement has arrived in the Gaza Strip today, carrying 27 activists (including five doctors) and humanitarian supplies for the blockaded strip. It is the second voyage by the group to the strip, which is protesting the Israeli blockade. One of the organizers said the ship will carry 10 Gazans out of the strip, among them students and patients being kept from leaving for medical care.
Though Israel has allowed the previous vessels to dock without incident, they had vowed to stop the most recent ship from reaching Gaza, mocking the group for “pretentiously” claiming to be a humanitarian aid ship and accusing the group of being “provocateurs.” They said the ship would be taken, by force if necessary, and the activists on board would be arrested. Ultimately though, the ship arrived without incident.
The Gaza Strip has been under blockade since 2006 by Israeli forces and a more complete lockdown since Hamas seized control of the strip in June of last year, though they have allowed limited supplies of humanitarian goods to intermittently enter through Israeli crossings since a ceasefire this summer. Most recently, Israel said today that it would completely ban the importation of shoes and clothing into the Gaza Strip, apparently fearing they could be used in “military uniforms.”