‘Jewish boat to Gaza’ leaves Cyprus

By Caroline-Nelly Perrot

Passengers on the Jewish Boat to Gaza gather for a group

photograph before their departure. Photo by Vish Vishvanath/Metro

FAMAGUSTA, Cyprus — A boat carrying Jewish activists from Israel, Europe and the United States set sail Sunday from Cyprus bound for Gaza, in a bid to run Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory, an AFP reporter said.

The boat, named “Irene,” left the port of Famagusta in the Turkish-held north of the divided eastern Mediterranean island in the early afternoon carrying eight activists, three of whom are crew members, and two journalists.

Reuven Moskovitz, an 82-year-old passenger who survived the Nazi Holocaust, told AFP he felt duty-bound to attempt the voyage, which is expected to take around 36 hours.

“It is a sacred duty for me, as a (Holocaust) survivor, to protest against the persecution, the oppression and the imprisonment of so many people in Gaza, including more than 800,000 children,” Moskovitz said.

Yonatan Shapira, a former pilot for the Israel Defense Forces and crew member on the British-flagged sailing boat, said they were not looking for a confrontation.

“We have a policy of non-violence and non-confrontation,” he said.

“But if the Israeli army stops the boat, we will not help them to take it to Ashdod,” he said, referring to a port in southern Israel where other blockade runners have been taken after being stopped by the navy.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has repeatedly warned that Israel will intercept any ship nearing Gaza, which is run by the Islamist movement Hamas.

In May, Israeli forces tried to stop a six-ship flotilla heading for Gaza but the raid went badly wrong, and nine Turkish activists were killed, prompting a wave of international condemnation.

“The boat’s cargo includes symbolic aid in the form of children’s toys and musical instruments, textbooks, fishing nets for Gaza’s fishing communities and prosthetic limbs for orthopaedic medical care in Gaza’s hospitals,” said a statement from the organisers, Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

Richard Kuper, a member of the organising group, said that “the Jewish Boat to Gaza is a symbolic act of protest against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the siege of Gaza, and a message of solidarity to Palestinians and Israelis who seek peace and justice.

“Israeli government policies are not supported by all Jews.” Kuper said in the statement.

“We are banging our head on a very hard wall of hatred. Our hope is to make little cracks on that wall, so that in the end it will fall,” said activist Rami Elhanan, who is also on the boat.

“Whatever happens, the worst thing has already happened to me, I am not afraid of what is coming next,” said Elhanan, who lost her daughter in a 1997 suicide bombing.

Moskovitz, the Holocaust survivor, said he still remained a Zionist.

“The state of Israel was a big dream, and it has become reality. We have to make sure it does not become a nightmare,” he said.

“I am a Zionist, I still believe I have a right to be here, but not to rob Palestinians from their land and steal the rights of 1.5 million people.”

Last week, a report by the UN Human Rights Council found there was clear evidence to back prosecutions against Israel for killing and torture when its troops stormed the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in the May flotilla.

In a scathing report, it also threw out Israel’s argument that the aid activists were violent, thereby justifying the decision by Israeli soldiers to open fire.

Israel rejected the report out of hand as “biased” and “one-sided.”

Israel says its commandos only resorted to force after they were attacked when they rappelled onto the deck of the Mavi Marmara, but pro-Palestinian activists on board say the soldiers opened fire as soon as they landed.

A separate inquiry into the incident has been set up by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and several more inquiries into the raid are also being pursued by Israel and Turkey.


Crew members and passengers are available for interviews….

Satellite phone on board for contact to the passengers: 00 8821668610337

Media Contact in London for interviewing the Boat’s organizers: Yosh, 0044 7816 448307 media@jewishboattogaza.org

JNews contact in Israel: Miri 00972 549270796

Passengers and crew for interview:

Reuven Moskovitz, from Israel, is a founding member of the Jewish-Arab village Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace) and a holocaust survivor. Speaks German, Hebrew and English.

Rami Elhanan, from Israel, who lost his daughter Smadar to a suicide bombing in 1997 and is a founding member of the Bereaved Families Circle of Israelis and Palestinians who lost their loved ones to the conflict. Speaks Hebrew and English.

Lilian Rosengarten, from the US, is a peace activist and psychotherapist. She was a refugee from Nazi Germany. Speaks English and German.

Yonatan Shapira, from Israel, is an ex-IDF pilot and now an activist for Combatants for Peace. Speaks Hebrew and English.

Glyn Secker, from the UK, is the boat’s captain and a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians. Speaks English.

Dr. Edith Lutz, from Germany, is a peace activist and a nurse. She was on the first boat to Gaza in 2008. Speaks German and English.

Alison Prager, from the UK, is a teacher and peace activist. She is media coordinator for the boat. Speaks English.

Itamar Shapira, from Israel, is Yonatan’s brother, and a member of the boat’s crew. Speaks Hebrew, Spanish and English.

Eli Osherov,  Israesli reporter from Israel Channel 10 News.

Supporters: Jewish organizations and individuals from UK, Holland, Germany, US, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, France, Austria, Australia and Israel.

Organizers and sponsors: European Jews for a Just Peace, Jews for Justice for Palestinians (UK), Juedische Stimme fuer einen gerechten Frieden in Nahost (Germany), American Jews for a Just Peace (USA), Jewish Voice for Peace (USA), Jews Against the Occupation Sydney.


  1. September 27, 2010 at 04:25


  2. Doug said,

    September 27, 2010 at 04:34

    Let’s see if the Israeli government attacks the ship and kills the activists aboard. If they do, then we’ll know that their previous murderous action was not due to the racial makeup of the flotilla passengers. If they don’t (as I expect) then we’ll know that the previous actions were because of racial hatred for non-Jews.

  3. David G said,

    September 27, 2010 at 04:49

    It takes courage to defy Israel! Ask those who were on the Turkish ship that the IDF thugs attacked.

    This little armada of one ship is particularly vulnerable because it has Jews on board. Israel will want to show to the world what it does to Jews who don’t follow the Zionist line.

    Perhaps an Israeli submarine will surface under the little yacht and it will sink with all hands never to be heard from again. That’s probably better than being captured and interrogated by Mossad.

  4. brian said,

    September 27, 2010 at 10:49

    all the israelis need to do is intercept the boat and tow it away…since no turks/arab are involved there should be no deaths.

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