Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gaza activists fear Israeli sabotage of anti-siege bid

"NICOSIA (AFP) - Activists who plan to break the blockade of the poverty-stricken Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip from the sea said on Monday they fear Israel may try to scupper the venture.

Two sailing boats carrying 40 activists are set to sail from Cyprus 370 kilometres (230 miles) to the north in a bid to break the Israeli siege, but organisers are keeping the logistics to themselves for security reasons.

"We have a fear that Israel will do something here to sabotage the trip," Greta Berlin, a spokeswoman for the US-based Free Gaza Movement, told reporters in Cyprus.

"The only thing being kept a secret is the location of the boats because of what Israel has done in the past -- they don't want us to go."

In 1988 a ferry planning to return Palestinian deportees to Haifa was the target of a limpet mine attack while docked at Cyprus's southern port of Limassol a day after three Palestinian organisers were killed by a car bomb.

Israel's secret service Mossad was blamed, but the Israelis denied responsibility.

According to the Free Gaza Movement on Monday, the Israeli government contacted Cyprus to see if the boats could be stopped but was told "no."

Berlin said the group hopes that the vessels, due to sail in "four or five days," will draw attention to the plight of 1.5 million Palestinians suffering chronic shortages......."

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