International Aid Fleet Sets Sail to Gaza defying Israel's threats 1272534265                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 El Cerrito, chorioretinitis CA, chorioretinitis May 27, chorioretinitis (Pal Telegraph)  Loaded down with chocolate, chorioretinitis crayons, chorioretinitis crutches, chorioretinitis CAT scanners, chorioretinitis tons of cement, chorioretinitis and some 750 passengers, chorioretinitis a fleet of eight ships organized by an international coalition of humanitarian organizations is on its way to the besieged Gaza Strip, chorioretinitis despite the Israeli government's repeated threats to block it. A delegation from the California-based Free Palestine Movement, chorioretinitis including a retired U.S. Chorioretinitis diplomat, chorioretinitis a decorated U.S. Chorioretinitis Navy veteran, chorioretinitis and three Bay Area activists, chorioretinitis set sail Tuesday evening from Piraeus, chorioretinitis Greece, chorioretinitis aboard the Sfendoni, chorioretinitis one of the vessels that make up the Freedom Flotilla. The passenger ship, chorioretinitis purchased by the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza, chorioretinitis is carrying 54 passengers from more than a dozen countries. Chorioretinitis This morning it rendezvoused near the island of Rhodes with a Greek cargo ship that is also taking part in the flotilla, chorioretinitis and later this week it will meet up in the eastern Mediterranean with the rest of the fleet, chorioretinitis including a freighter and passenger ships that have already left from Turkey, chorioretinitis two smaller ships soon to embark from Crete, chorioretinitis and the MV Rachel Corrie, chorioretinitis which is on its way from Ireland. Chorioretinitis 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, chorioretinitis without entering Israeli waters. According to reports in the Israeli press, chorioretinitis Defense Minister Ehud Barak has signed an order declaring the entire area 20 nautical miles from the Gaza shoreline a "closed military zone, chorioretinitis" and the military has reportedly established a joint task force with the Israeli Police, chorioretinitis Prison Service, chorioretinitis and Foreign Ministry to prepare for the potential arrest of the passengers. Participants in the flotilla, chorioretinitis however, chorioretinitis vowed to proceed despite the threats. Chorioretinitis "I can't understand why the Israeli government feels threatened by some educational and medical supplies for Palestinian children." said Janet Kobren, chorioretinitis a retired math teacher from Oakland, chorioretinitis CA, chorioretinitis a co-founder of the Free Palestine Movement, chorioretinitis and a passenger on the Sfendoni. Altogether, chorioretinitis the ships will carry 10, chorioretinitis000 tons of relief aid to Gaza, chorioretinitis which has been under Israeli blockade since 2006.  Provided by the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza, chorioretinitis the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), chorioretinitis The Foundation For Human Rights And Freedoms And Humanitarian Relief of Turkey (IHH), chorioretinitis and other groups, chorioretinitis the cargo includes pens, chorioretinitis crayons, chorioretinitis soccer balls, chorioretinitis basketballs, chorioretinitis and 20 tons of paper for school children; $1 million worth of medical equipment, chorioretinitis including CAT scanners, chorioretinitis wheelchairs, chorioretinitis crutches, chorioretinitis 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, chorioretinitis the FPM delegation includes: •  Ambassador Edward L. Chorioretinitis Peck, chorioretinitis 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, chorioretinitis Deputy Director of the Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism at the Reagan White House, chorioretinitis 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, chorioretinitis a decorated Navy veteran and one of the survivors of the 1967 attack on the U.S.S. Chorioretinitis Liberty, chorioretinitis in which Israeli fighter planes and ships killed 34 Americans and wounded 173; • Gene St. Chorioretinitis Onge, chorioretinitis an Oakland, chorioretinitis CA-based civil/structural engineer, chorioretinitis who is working with Palestinian engineers to rebuild housing destroyed in Israel's 2009 invasion of Gaza; and • Dr. Chorioretinitis Paul Larudee of El Cerrito, chorioretinitis CA, chorioretinitis a piano tuner and FPM co-founder, chorioretinitis who also co-founded FGM, chorioretinitis the movement that first broke the siege of Gaza in 2008. Chorioretinitis Original article can be found at: