The event was very poorly publicized when the ships first set sail from their original location in Greece, but with each stop on each island closer to Gaza, they received more publicity. During the last leg of their trip, Israel sent word that they would be allowed to pass through to Gaza because Israeli intelligence had determined that they were not a security threat.
Today, two days after they docked in Gaza, the human rights organizers in charge of the event plan to join a Gazan fishing expedition to provide cover for the fisherman, who are not allowed far enough off the coast to catch adequate numbers of fish to support their families and their economy.
While breaking the siege has a lot of symbolic importance, the practical benefit for the people of Gaza is minimal. The two ships, the SS Liberty and the SS Free Gaza, while carrying 45 human rights activists, did not bring much in the way of necessary material items to a people who are short on almost everything, from food to soap.
A Gaza activist told Ynet Saturday that local residents were disappointed by the small quantities of food brought in by two boats carrying international leftist activists.Perhaps it would be more efficient to support the smuggler network already operating roughly 100 tunnels under Gaza. It is this network that has been responsible for such feats as providing Gazan mothers with baby formula and sexy underwear and delivering drugged lions in sacks for Gaza's zoo.
"Many people thought these boats will make a significant contribution to break the siege, not only politically but also in terms of brining in goods, equipment, food, and medicine," he said. "However, once it turned out these boats contain too little food and mostly activists…some people left the beach disappointed."
But of course, these are not the only items being smuggled through the tunnels. And the confirmation of their existence puts to bed previous questions I had about how al-Qaida is providing weapons to Hamas.