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Jewish boat heads toward 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.
  • NEW: Israel says it will ask the boat to dock elsewhere
  • 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 continued toward Gaza on Monday, despite a blockade to the occupied territory.

The ship set sail Sunday from Cyprus.

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.

Video: Gaza flotilla: A tale of two inquires
  • Cyprus
  • Israel
  • Gaza

The Israeli foreign ministry said Monday that when the boat nears, officials will ask for its destination. If they are told that the boat intends to go to Gaza, it will be told to dock at Al Arish port in northeastern Egypt near Gaza or Israel's Ashdod ports. If the boat refuses, it will be intercepted and towed to Ashdod, said ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.

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."

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.

On Wednesday, the United Nations' Human Rights Council concluded that Israeli forces committed serious violations of international law in the mid-sea interception.

The 56-page report described the circumstances of the deaths of "at least six of the passengers" as being "consistent with ... an arbitrary and summary execution."

Israel has maintained its troops used force on the activists in May after they were attacked by those on board one boat. But passengers on board the boat insist Israeli troops fired on them without provocation.

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