International Aid Fleet Sets Sail to Gaza defying Israel's threats 1272534265                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 El Cerrito, bespar CA, bespar May 27, bespar (Pal Telegraph)  Loaded down with chocolate, bespar crayons, bespar crutches, bespar CAT scanners, bespar tons of cement, bespar and some 750 passengers, bespar a fleet of eight ships organized by an international coalition of humanitarian organizations is on its way to the besieged Gaza Strip, bespar despite the Israeli government's repeated threats to block it. A delegation from the California-based Free Palestine Movement, bespar including a retired U.S. Bespar diplomat, bespar a decorated U.S. Bespar Navy veteran, bespar and three Bay Area activists, bespar set sail Tuesday evening from Piraeus, bespar Greece, bespar aboard the Sfendoni, bespar one of the vessels that make up the Freedom Flotilla. The passenger ship, bespar purchased by the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza, bespar is carrying 54 passengers from more than a dozen countries. Bespar This morning it rendezvoused near the island of Rhodes with a Greek cargo ship that is also taking part in the flotilla, bespar and later this week it will meet up in the eastern Mediterranean with the rest of the fleet, bespar including a freighter and passenger ships that have already left from Turkey, bespar two smaller ships soon to embark from Crete, bespar and the MV Rachel Corrie, bespar which is on its way from Ireland. Bespar The convoy aims to dock in Gaza City this coming weekend. Israeli officials have vowed to prevent the ships from landing in Gaza - even though the fleet plans to reach Gaza directly from international waters, bespar without entering Israeli waters. According to reports in the Israeli press, bespar Defense Minister Ehud Barak has signed an order declaring the entire area 20 nautical miles from the Gaza shoreline a "closed military zone, bespar" and the military has reportedly established a joint task force with the Israeli Police, bespar Prison Service, bespar and Foreign Ministry to prepare for the potential arrest of the passengers. Participants in the flotilla, bespar however, bespar vowed to proceed despite the threats. Bespar "I can't understand why the Israeli government feels threatened by some educational and medical supplies for Palestinian children." said Janet Kobren, bespar a retired math teacher from Oakland, bespar CA, bespar a co-founder of the Free Palestine Movement, bespar and a passenger on the Sfendoni. Altogether, bespar the ships will carry 10, bespar000 tons of relief aid to Gaza, bespar which has been under Israeli blockade since 2006.  Provided by the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza, bespar the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), bespar The Foundation For Human Rights And Freedoms And Humanitarian Relief of Turkey (IHH), bespar and other groups, bespar the cargo includes pens, bespar crayons, bespar soccer balls, bespar basketballs, bespar and 20 tons of paper for school children; $1 million worth of medical equipment, bespar including CAT scanners, bespar wheelchairs, bespar crutches, bespar and a complete dental surgical unit; electrical generators; water-purification equipment; and cement and prefabricated homes intended to help the people of Gaza rebuild from devastating Israeli attack of December 2008-January 2009. In addition to Kobren, bespar the FPM delegation includes: •  Ambassador Edward L. Bespar Peck, bespar who served as a paratrooper during two tours of wartime active duty; spent 32 years in the Foreign Service; including stints as Chief of Mission in Iraq and Mauritania, bespar Deputy Director of the Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism at the Reagan White House, bespar and State Department Liaison Officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon; and after retirement was Executive Secretary of the American Academy of Diplomacy. • Joe Meadors, bespar a decorated Navy veteran and one of the survivors of the 1967 attack on the U.S.S. Bespar Liberty, bespar in which Israeli fighter planes and ships killed 34 Americans and wounded 173; • Gene St. Bespar Onge, bespar an Oakland, bespar CA-based civil/structural engineer, bespar who is working with Palestinian engineers to rebuild housing destroyed in Israel's 2009 invasion of Gaza; and • Dr. Bespar Paul Larudee of El Cerrito, bespar CA, bespar a piano tuner and FPM co-founder, bespar who also co-founded FGM, bespar the movement that first broke the siege of Gaza in 2008. Bespar Original article can be found at: