We will now carry LiveFeed from the flotilla. More updates are at WitnessGaza.
UPDATE 1523 GMT: The flotilla can be followed by live stream video.
UPDATE 1252 GMT: A participant on one of the ships has just sent the message, "We have just started moving. On our way to Gaza as a flotilla of 6 vessels."
UPDATE 0845 GMT: Organisers say five ships left Cyprus at 0200 GMT and are expected to reach Gazan waters late on Sunday afternoon.
The Humanitarian Relief Foundation says the "Freedom Flotilla" ships carrying aid will arrive in Israeli territorial waters on Sunday morning. However, due to technical problems, only five of them are still sailing.
On Saturday morning, the Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, put out a message to Israeli officials:
The meaning of the flotilla is that the entire world opposes the siege on the Gaza Strip, and if Israel behaves like pirates and sea-terrorists – --we will win.
It was reported that the Cypriot members of Parliament, the ones who had worked so hard to get activists permission to leave, were outraged. The Greek Cypriot members finally told them to go to the north of the island.
In Cyprus, organizers were trying to get two dozen would-be passengers, including 19 European legislators and an elderly Holocaust survivor, on the ships anchored in international waters off the island. Organizers then appealed to the Turkish government to get the group out via a Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus port. Turkish Cypriot officials have said they want to help the group as much as they can.
Elize Ernshire of the Free Gaza Movement said two of the seven boats in the humanitarian aid operation had been “tampered with”, forcing one to drop out and another to pull into port in Turkish-held northern Cyprus for repairs.
Haniyeh,joining the confrontation, He said:
This fleet indicates that Turkey ... is leading strategic changes in the region based on disconnecting itself from the Zionist enterprise and joining the Muslim nations.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Defense Forces set out the four-stage plan “Operation Sky Wind":
1. Warning stage: the navy will try to stop the ships from reaching a “line” dubbed as a red line, should the ships reach the designated line, they will be warned and informed that they “violate the law”.
2. Boarding and controlling the ships: should the ships fail to adhere to the demands of the navy, the navy will attack and control the ships carrying nearly 800 activists. The ships will then be taken to the port of Ashdod, and the activists will be detained in a huge tent.
3. Deportation by air: Israeli soldiers and policemen would order the detained activists to sign statements accepting to be deported to their countries, and will be deported by air via the Ben Gurion Airport.
4. Arrest before deportation: those who refuse to sign deportation statements, will be arrested, sent to medical examination, then transferred to the Nahshon Brigade which belongs to the Israeli Prison Administration before being sent to Be’er Sheva Prison and likely other prisons.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon reiterated that the military will not allow the ships to reach the Palestinian territory. He called the aid mission a provocation. Ayalon also wrote on his Facebook page:
There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. If the flotilla had a genuine humanitarian goal, then its organizers should have transferred something for the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit as well. Their refusal to do so clearly indicates that humanitarian issues were not their goal.
The parents of Shalit had asked the organizers of the “human rights” flotilla to take letters and packages for Gilad. The answer was no.
Away from the controversy over the Freedom Flotilla, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said during Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas's visit that they will build a hospital worth 20 billion rupiah (2.16 million dollars) in Gaza.