Israel to Stop Second 'Free Gaza' Boat

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli officials "at the highest government levels" have decided not to allow the second voyage of the Free Gaza ship free passage through Israeli waters.

The government's decision last August, which allowed the movement's two boats to dock on Gaza's shore, was meant to avoid the confrontation the group sought.

But that was a one-time decision, Israeli officials said, not a continuing policy.

The second protest voyage, set to depart from Cypress today, will ferry some 27 left-wing activists, including Arab Israeli Knesset member Jamal Zahalka (Balad), Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti, and Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead McGuire, according to the movement's organizer, Greta Berlin.

"This second trip is just one of many we intend to organize over the next year," Berlin told reporters. "We have lawyers, members of parliament and other professionals already on our passenger lists for upcoming voyages," she said.

The converted fishing boat will carrying a "symbolic package" of medical equipment and other aid, Berlin said, adding that the group postponed the September trip out of respect for the Islamic month of Ramadan.

Because the movement exploited Israel's decision in August, demonstrating on behalf of Hamas and making itself available for propaganda against Israel, the government decided there's no point in allowing them free passage again through Israeli waters.

Sources: YNet news, The Jerusalem Post

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