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Jewish boat sets sail to Gaza with aid

By the CNN Wire Staff
The Irene leaves Cyprus on Sunday carrying Jewish activists bound for Gaza.
The Irene leaves Cyprus on Sunday carrying Jewish activists bound for Gaza.
  • Jewish organizations are sponsoring the ship
  • The boat is carrying children's toys and other goods
  • Cyprus police said they were not aware of the ship's departure

(CNN) -- An aid ship sponsored by Jewish activist organizations around the world set sail Sunday from Cyprus to Gaza, despite a blockade to the occupied territory.

The boat, named Irene, was carrying 10 passengers and crew, including Jews from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Israel.

"The boat will attempt to reach the coast of Gaza and unload its aid cargo in a nonviolent, symbolic act of solidarity and protest -- and call for the siege to be lifted to enable free passage of goods and people to and from the Gaza Strip," organizers said in a statement.

The captain of the boat, Glyn Secker, said that they left Cyprus at 1 p.m. and expect to arrive in Gaza in 36 hours.

The boat's cargo includes children's toys, musical instruments, textbooks, fishing nets and prosthetic limbs, the organizers said.

They plan to deliver the goods to the Gaza Mental Health Program.

"Israeli government policies are not supported by all Jews," said Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, one of the organizers. "We call on all governments and people around the world to speak and act against the occupation and the siege."

Video: Gaza flotilla: A tale of two inquires

Police in Cyprus said they were not aware of the ship's departure, spokesman Michalis Katsounotos said.

Cyprus has a ban on vessels leaving the southern part of the island for Gaza. It was unclear from what part of the island the boat departed.

In May, an aid flotilla headed to Gaza from Turkey was intercepted by Israeli forces. Violence broke out, resulting in the deaths of nine people.

CNN's Joyce Joseph and journalist Paul Malaos contributed to this report.