Israeli Arab leaders vow to sail to Gaza to break blockade
Israel's Islamic Movement says dozens of Israeli Arabs to sail from Jaffa Sunday to deliver aid.
Leaders of Israel's Arab community said Wednesday they'll head to Gaza on a boat laden with humanitarian aid to defy their government's blockade of the territory.
Zahi Nujeidat, a spokesman for Israel's Islamic Movement, said dozens of Arab Israelis will set sail Sunday from the Israeli port of Jaffa. It is the first such aid shipment sent from Israel.
A Qatari charity on Wednesday said it will send a ship with humanitarian aid to Gaza despite the Israeli blockade that prevented a Libyan boat from reaching the coastal strip.
Abdallah Naema, executive director of Qatar Charity, said the organization didn't ask for Israeli permission to send a ship with activists, medicine and other aid for the Palestinians in Gaza.
Naema is quoted in a statement published by three Qatari newspapers on Wednesday.
Israel has previously ordered back the Libyan aid ship. Naema expects a similar order for his boat, but says his nonprofit organization is determined.
Qatar doesn't have a peace treaty with Israel, but the tiny Arab country hosts Israeli diplomats. Hamas officials, who rule Gaza, also visit Qatar.
Meanwhile, the leader of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood movement announced Tuesday that a group of Jordanian Islamists will set sail for the Gaza Strip from the Jordanian port of Aqaba on December 20 with the aim of breaking the siege of the Palestinian territory.
The decision was announced at a press conference attended by leaders of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood movement and its political arm, the Islamic Action Front (IAF).
The Brotherhood's leader, Hammam Saeed, said that the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip were being exposed to "a tragedy as represented by an appalling and inhuman blockade that had reached new proportions by preventing them from performing pilgrimage."
Gazan Muslims have been prevented from performing their obligatory pilgrimage, or Hajj, duties due to the ongoing blockade of Gaza and infighting between Hamas and Fatah, the two rival Palestinian factions.
Saeed urged Egypt to reopen the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt in order to allow thousands of pilgrims to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform hajj rituals at the Grand Mosque of Mecca, due to begin on Saturday.
The Brotherhood leader also unveiled a series of activities and demonstrations to be launched throughout the country in the run-up to the ship's sailing on December 20.
On Monday Israeli authorities turned back a Libyan ship carrying humanitarian aid that had been bound for Gaza.
Earlier this year several vessels with foreign pro-Palestinian activists on board succeeded in docking at Gaza's seaport.