True Freedom Flotilla for Gilad Shalit
Participants in New York's 'True Freedom Flotilla' for Gilad Shalit on June 24, 2010, including Israeli UN envoy Gabriela Shalev and Israel's Consul General in New York Asaf Shariv Photo by Ilan Klein
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New York's Jewish community was set to mark four years since the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Gaza militants with what they call the "True Freedom Flotilla."

The name chosen for the event echoes the name of a recent 8-ship flotilla that sailed from Turkey toward Gaza to break the Israeli blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory, which was named the Freedom Flotilla.

The flotilla was to encircle the Statue of Liberty and then sail to United Nations building.

The two-hour event was to involve seven vessels: The Queen of Hearts which can hold up to 600 passengers, another smaller boat and five privately owned yachts.

The flotilla was organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group of American Jewish organizations. Israel's mission to the UN has also joined the initiative, as did Israel's Consulate General in New York.

Boats were scheduled to move north on the East River at 12:00 noon New York time on Thursday, June 24th from Houston Street and West Side Highway. The flotilla can be viewed from the East River Esplanade. Entrance to the Esplanade is on the east side of First Avenue at 34th, 35th or 37th Streets.

"For four years, Hamas has denied Gilad Shalit the most basic rights, including visits by international organizations," Israel's ambassador to the UN said on Thursday, adding that this was both illegal and immoral.

Joel Lion, the Spokesperson and Consul for Media Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, has put together a package full of clothing and food which was to be handed to a Red Cross representative to be brought to Shalit though the organization's international channels.