Cyprus to let activists sail for Gaza

Authorities in Cyprus said Monday they will not try to stop a group of US-based activists that plans to sail to Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory. The Free Gaza group, which is based in El Cerrito, California, said it will sail in two boats from Cyprus' port of Larnaca either Friday or Saturday. The trip is aimed at setting a precedent for others to follow, protest organizer Greta Berlin said. The group plans to deliver 200 hearing aids to a Palestinian charity for children and hand out 5,000 balloons. Israeli Jeff Halper, one of the event's organizers, said some 40 activists from 16 countries will make the trip - including Israelis, Palestinians and Anne Montgomery, an 81-year-old Catholic nun. Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas came to power last year, but Cyprus Police Chief Iacovos Papakostas told The Associated Press that "authorities have no reason to stop anyone from sailing wherever they wish." Berlin said the two Free Gaza boats are currently on their way to Cyprus from a location she did not disclose, citing security concerns.