US group plans ‘Free Palestine’ aid flight to Gaza 6Sep10 September 7, 2010

Haaretz -  6 September 2010

Organizers spent year raising funds to charter plane that can land where there is no airport; flight scheduled for spring.

A U.S.-based pro-Palestinian organization is planning to fly a plane-load of aid to Gaza, in defiance of an Israeli blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory. The flight was scheduled for this coming spring.

“We intend to send an aircraft to Gaza in much the same way boats were used – without going through Israeli or Egyptian airspace,” the Palestinian news agency Ma’an quoted an organizer of the initiative as saying.

In May, the pro-Palestinian organization IHH organized a flotilla of ships that sailed to Gaza carrying supplies. The Israeli Navy intercepted the ships, with clashes aboard one of the vessels resulting in the deaths of nine Turkish activists.

The California-based Free Palestine Movement sponsoring the flight has been linked to the IHH, Channel 2 reported Sunday, adding that the organizers of the flight had spent a year raising the funds required to charter the plane, which can be landed in places where there is no airport.

The current initiative to send an aircraft into Gaza poses a unique security challenge as it would be difficult for Israeli forces to intercept an airplane without causing casualties. However, diplomatic pressure could still thwart the mission.

Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza in 2007, after the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas violently seized control over the territory. The blockade aims to prevent the entry of weapons and other materials that can be used in warfare against Israel.

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