The first vessel of a pro-Palestinian flotilla aiming to break Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip set sail from its home port in Sweden on Sunday morning.
The trawler Marianne of Gothenburg will be carrying a “limited cargo of, among other things, solar cell panels and medical equipment” for use in Gaza, according to a statement by the Ship to Gaza campaign.
The boat is part of the so-called Freedom Flotilla III, following other high profile attempts by activists to sail to Gaza.
The Marianne, with its five crew members, will be stopping at Helsingborg, Malmo, Copenhagen and other ports to be announced later on before continuing on to Gaza, Ship to Gaza officials said.
Along the way it will pick up eight other crew members, according to Israel Radio. Two other vessels are expected to join the flotilla later on.
Israel imposed a maritime blockade on Gaza in 2006 and strengthened it a year later when the Islamist Hamas movement took control of Gaza in a bloody coup.
Cairo has also maintained a blockade on the Strip
Israel and Egypt say the security blockade is to prevent Hamas, a terror group avowedly committed to the destruction of Israel, from importing weaponry into Gaza to use against Israel.
The IDF says it has intercepted a number of civilian ships carrying weapons headed for Gaza in recent years. At the same time, it has also turned away attempts by activists to break the blockade.
In 2010, 10 Turkish activists were killed when Israeli troops attempting to stop a ship from reaching Gaza were met with stiff resistance aboard the Mavi Marmara.
The incident led to an international outcry and a chilling of ties with Turkey.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.