Free Gaza boats sail into Gaza port!!!
Many of you have by now likely heard of the Free Gaza movement, whose two boats full of 46 civilian activists (including my uncle, a UK based engineer) from 14 countries are attempting to break the siege on Gaza by sailing to its shores from Cyprus.
Among the passengers are Jeff Halper, founder of Israel Committee Against House Demolition, an 81-year-old Catholic nun, the sister-in-law of Mideast envoy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and an 84 year old Holocaust survivor.
They are meant to arrive today, and everyone is waiting anxiously to see whether they will make it or not. Their journey has been fraught with technical difficulties, rough sea conditions, and electronic piracy-scrambled radio signals and jammed phones.
But despite it all, it appears they are making it into the Gaza harbor!! This according to Jeff Halper who is one of those on board the SS Free Gaza- they are 9 nautical miles from the Gaza Port. The SS LIBERTY is still 25 miles out.
Image by AP. Huwaida Arraf throws roses in memory of the A36 mericans killed aboard the USS Liberty.
According to journalist Yvonne Ridley, one of those on board the SS Libery: "We've entered Gazan waters. We're flying the Palestinian flag, and we now believe that we're going to reach the shores of Gaza very soon. I missed the start of the Berlin Wall coming down by just a few days, but now I know how people felt when they tore down those first few bricks. Today is a huge victory of people over power."
Meanwhile, in Gaza, tens of thousands of Palestinians are waiting on shore to celebrate the much anticipated and daring arrival.
Image by AP. Palestinians wait in fishing vessels in Gaza City for the arrival of the Free Gaza and the Liberty.
My mother and Aunt were on board Palestinian vessels on the Gaza side that went out to greet the international vessels; apparently they had to turn back to Gaza shore after hearing Israeli naval warning shots.
I have been unable to make contact with them since this morning, but we all anxiously to hear if this attempt to break the siege will succeed and what the next stage of this heroic saga will be.
You can see a recorded stream of passengers on the from 7pm GMT yesterday night by clicking here.
You can also catch live streaming when available at this link.
UPDATE: The boats both arrived safely earlier today! My parents called to update me earlier today. My mom said she greeted the activists with labaneh sandwiches, cucumbers, and warm mint tea, which they much appreciated. My father accidental fell into the harbor after trying to prevent my mother from doing the same aboard a life raft! They were met by hundreds of thousands of Gazans. They plan on holding a press conference tomorrow morning.