The race is on: Tahrir and Saoirse aid flotillas only 50 miles from Gaza

Mohamed Abdel-Baky , Friday 4 Nov 2011

A TV reporter tells Ahram Online via Twitter that he can see Palestinians welcoming the aid boats and that they haven't been contacted by Israel despite reaching 50 miles from Gaza's shore

Mavi Marmara ship in May 2010 (Reuters)

Only 50 nautical miles separate the two ships that aim to break the Gaza strip blockade, currently sailing towards the Gaza shore.

Activists on board the Irish Saoirse (Gaelic for Freedom) and the Canadian Tahrir (Arabic for Liberation) expect that they will be intercepted by the Israeli navy 30 nautical miles before reaching Gaza.

An onboard television reporter, Alaa Abdel Ghani, told Ahram Online through his @hassan_ghani Twitter account that the two ships are as of yet still sailing at full speed with no contact nor interference from Israelis. He added that activists raised the Palestinian flag on the Tahrir ship.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army radio has already stated that their navy is preparing to stop the two Gaza ships in the Mediterranean.

Twitter activists on the boat say they can see Palestinians in fishing boats preparing to welcome the the two boats. 

“The fact that we have reached international waters is another victory for the movement,” says the Canadian boat to Gaza organiser, David Heap, from onboard the Tahrir.

“Despite economic blackmail, despite the outsourcing of the blockade to Greece, despite being forcibly boarded by the Greek Coast Guard, and despite Israel mobilising a significant portion of its navy to stop us; we are now even closer to reaching Gaza, breaking the blockade, and occupying the occupation,” he added in a statement posted on the Candian boat to Gaza campaign's website.

Between the two boats, they carry 27 passengers and some $30,000 worth of medical aid, as well as journalists and crew members, said organisers.

The ships left a port in southern Turkey on Wednesday and were expected to reach Gaza by Friday morning.

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