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PORTSIDE  November 2011, Week 1

PORTSIDE November 2011, Week 1

Subject:

Flotilla organizers to Haaretz: We expect to reach Gaza in two days

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 3 Nov 2011 19:40:05 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (99 lines)

Flotilla organizers to Haaretz: We expect to reach Gaza
in two days 

Canadian activist Ehab Lotayef says two-vessel flotilla
is 'halfway to Gaza'; says 'there will be no violence
from our side' in dealing with Israel Defense Forces. 

By Natasha Mozgovaya 

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/flotilla-organizers-to-haaretz-we-expect-to-reach-gaza-in-two-days-1.393542


Ehab Lotayef, one of the Canadian organizers of the
Gaza-bound flotilla that set sail from Turkey on
Wednesday, says that the ship is "halfway to Gaza" and
expects to arrive at its destination "within the next
two days."

Speaking with Haaretz via satellite phone on board the
"Tahrir," Lotayef said that the activists had not yet
been contacted by the Israel Defense Forces, and that
they are still contemplating their strategy.

"We might speed u a bit, we might slow down a little,
but there will be no violence from our side," he said.

The activists are aware that the IDF plans to intercept
the two vessels that are heading for Gaza.

"We've heard from the press they are planning to stop
us, but we are determined to reach Gaza, and we are
going to do our best to reach it in a non-violent
confrontation way," he said.

"I don't have illusions that our mission will end all
the problems tomorrow, but we are using any tool to
call attention to the suffering of people in Gaza. We
didn't come to fight with the Israeli army, we came to
deliver a clear message: the blockade of Gaza is
illegal and inhumane. It should end." Lotayef added.

When asked about the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip
into Israel, he said, "our mission is totally separate
from the cycle of violence. Our view is that violence
against civilians is unacceptable in all cases. We
still believe the blockade needs to be lifted, and that
for many decades Israel refused to grant Palestinians
their basic rights."

Lotayef added that sailing conditions are not ideal,
and that the sea is not "totally smooth," but that
everybody on board is well, and that any hardship they
might experience is nothing in comparison to the
conditions of the "open-sky prison" of Gaza.

The Israeli Navy started tracking the two-vessel ships
flotilla to Gaza on Wednesday.

According to information obtained by security services,
the two ships left Turkey after announcing their
intentions to sale to Rhodes. There is no information
presently that indicates Turkish involvement in the
flotilla.

The passengers on the two ships - a small ship named
"Al-Tahrir" and a yacht named "the Saoirse" are
believed to be activists in two pro-Palestinian
organizations from Ireland and Canada.

According to IDF estimates, judging by the speed of the
ships and the conditions at sea, the IDF estimates that
the ships will arrive in Gaza between Thursday night
and early Friday morning.

The first Gaza flotilla set sail from Turkey in May
2010. The six-vessel convoy had the intention of
breaking through a comprehensive blockade Israel had
placed on the coastal territory. The most recent
flotilla attempt in July 2011 did not reach Gaza
shores.

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