Blair relative in Gaza protest

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The Independent Online

The Israeli authorities are giving little away on how they will handle a planned sea voyage by some 40 pro-Palestinian activists from Cyprus to Gaza in an effort to "break the siege" of the blockaded Strip.

The group of Palestinians, Israelis and campaigners from 15 other countries, including Lauren Booth, Tony Blair's sister-in-law, a Holocaust survivor and an 81-year-old American nun, is expected to set sail at the end of the week. The US-based Free Gaza group has bought two wooden boats for the 241-mile crossing.

The Cypriot authorities have said they will not prevent the vessels from leaving Larnaca. But the Israeli navy controls the waters outside Gaza. A spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry said: "We are following developments."

Greta Berlin, one of the organisers of the group, which is hoping to deliver 200 hearing aids for pupils at a school for the deaf among other supplies, said the voyage was a humanitarian act by "frustrated people who want to make a difference".

Part of the purpose of the voyage is to focus international attention on Israel's blockade of Gaza imposed after Hamas's takeover of the Strip 13 months ago.

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