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Gaza prepares for Freedom Flotilla

As the Freedom Flotilla prepares to weigh anchor in Gaza City’s port, Gaza authorities prepare for the nine-vessel convoy expected on Thursday.

The Gaza government’s Transport Ministry said Tuesday that several improvements were made to the port to receive the international convoy, bringing with them tons of humanitarian aid – mostly goods barred for entry by Israel, including construction material.

The preparations including testing the port’s ability to receive the boats, which include sending out two terminal buoys, ministry officials said.

General-director of port authorities in Gaza Baha Al-Agha said all the groundwork had been completed in order to host the Freedom Flotilla, in coordination with the Ministry of Public Works.

Kiosks have been erected along the port’s entrance and a special area has been designated for naval police, charged with facilitating their arrival and ensuring security in the area, Al-Agha said.

All alleys and paths at the fishermen’s docks have been paved and repaired, the official said, adding the port has been widened by 30 meters to enable the fleet to dock.

However, several UN reports issued recently wrote that nearly 16 months since the end of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, three-quarters of the coastal enclave remains in disrepair as a result of the ongoing siege.

The Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) said Tuesday that over 60 percent of Gaza households are food insecure as a result of the ongoing blockade Israel imposed on the coastal enclave, leading to a collapse of its formal economy

AIDA, which represents over 80 NGOs, called on Israel for “full and unfettered access into and out of the Gaza Strip for materials and exports necessary for the revival of the agriculture and fishing sectors,” as food insecurity and joblessness becomes ever-more prevalent in the coastal enclave.

On Saturday, as the second ship set sail from Istanbul, John Ging, Head of United Nation’s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, said, “We recommend the world send ships to the shores of Gaza, and we believe that Israel would not stop these vessels because the sea is open, and many human rights organizations have been successful in previous similar steps, and proved that breaking the siege on Gaza is
possible.”

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