Activists postpone Gaza sail to defy Israel

NICOSIA Fri Sep 26, 2008 8:41am EDT

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NICOSIA (Reuters) - Foreign activists who planned to sail to Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade have delayed their trip to late October, an organizer said on Friday.

Members of the U.S.-based Free Gaza Movement had planned to sail to the Palestinian territory from Cyprus this week, but said they were held up while attempting to find a boat.

There were also poor weather conditions in the eastern Mediterranean, and activists did not want their trip to coincide with the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan next week, a spokeswoman said.

"The only analogy I can think of is like showing up with 22 people you don't know for Christmas dinner," said Greta Berlin, a spokeswoman for the Free Gaza Movement.

"We want to get past Ramadan, and the seas are very rough at the moment so we are going to postpone it until the third or fourth week of October," she said.

Activists had in August sailed to Gaza in an attempt to highlight poor living conditions for the 1.4 million Palestinians living there, and open a sea route to the territory. The Israeli navy patrols its coast, but had not prevented the activists from sailing there. Israel pulled its troops and settlers out of Gaza in 2005, but tightened restrictions last year when the Islamic movement Hamas seized control of the area from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' security forces. Hamas opposes Abbas' peace talks with Israel.

(Writing by Michele Kambas, editing by Diana Abdallah)

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