Israeli-Arabs plan to sail to Gaza from Jaffa

Israeli-Arabs plan to leave from Jaffa; Qatari NGO to send boat; Libyan boat turned away on Monday.

libyan boat 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
libyan boat 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Two days after the Navy turned back a Libyan ship heading to the Gaza Strip to break the blockade of that Hamas-ruled territory, a Qatari charity group announced Wednesday that it, too, will send a boat to Gaza. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, acknowledging the intensified efforts to send boats into Gaza, reiterated what the Israeli government has said prior to each such sailing: the government will respond to each case on an individual basis. Since September, three boats sponsored by the US-based Free Gaza organization were allowed in after setting sail from Cyprus, while the Libyan vessel was turned away. Palmor said there is a difference between a boat coming from Libya, which is hostile to Israel and boycotts it, and one coming from Qatar, with whom Israel has diplomatic relations, and in whose capital it has a small trade representation. "Maybe the Qataris will make contact with us," he said. Abdallah Naema, executive director of Qatar Charity, was quoted by three Qatari newspapers Wednesday as saying the organization hadn't asked for Israeli permission to send a ship with activists, medicine and other aid for the Palestinians in Gaza. Naema said he expected the boat to be turned away by Israel. Meanwhile, Israeli Arab leaders said they will head to Gaza on a boat laden with humanitarian aid to defy the government's blockade of the territory. Zahi Nujeidat, a spokesman for the Islamic Movement, said dozens of Israeli Arabs will set sail on Sunday from Jaffa. AP contributed to this report.