The Estelle, carrying 17 activists including Canadian, Norwegian and Swedish nationals left from the port at Naples, Italy on Saturday. The vessel, which measures 173 feet long, reportedly is carrying humanitarian goods.
The leader of the Norwegian section of the group “Ship to Gaza,” Torstein Dahle, told Reuters that the groups’ goals were the same as that of previous flotillas, namely to end the blockade and bring relief to the people of Gaza.
It will take about two weeks to reach Gaza’s territorial waters, according to AFP.
The ship is part of the “Freedom Flotilla” movement. The movement’s first attempt to break the blockade ended in the deaths of nine Turkish activists after Israeli Navy commandos on May 31, 2010 boarded the Mavi Marmara in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Estelle began its journey in Sweden and toured Europe, including Finland, Spain, and France before arriving last week in the Gulf of Naples.
As part of its illegal blockade on Gaza, Israel’s naval blockade extends to around 37 kilometers from the coast of Gaza, but previous Israeli attacks against solidarity ships were carried out as far as 65 kilometers from the shore.
A second attempt to break the blockade last summer with a coalition of ships setting sail from Athens failed after Greek authorities intercepted the boats, banning their departure.
In November last year, the Israeli navy also intercepted two Irish and Canadian ships that were trying to breach the blockade in international waters off Gaza.