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A ship sent by a Japan-based luxury cruise operator and NGO, whose vessels sail the world promoting peace, arrived in Egypt’s Port Said on Wednesday flying a banner condemning Israel’s killing of more than 10,000 Gazans.
Pacific World embarked on its latest world tour in August, its 115th such voyage, said Karen Hallows, spokeswoman for the Peace Boat NGO.
The vessel's global cruise is promoting calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, and it will dock at various ports where protests will then be staged.
The banner, which reads "Stop Killing Gaza!", was raised on November 3 while the ship was in the Greek port of Piraeus.
Measuring 30 by five metres, the flag was also on display when Pacific World sailed into Istanbul on November 5.
The banner was met with support and enthusiasm in both cities, with residents adding their voices to the call for a ceasefire in Gaza, Ms Hallows told The National.
The Pacific World will remain docked in Port Said until Thursday morning.
On Wednesday, an event was held to formalise Peace Boat’s calls for a truce, at which the head of Egypt’s Journalists’ Syndicate, Khaled El Balshy, gave a speech.
The syndicate has been prominent in Egypt calling for a ceasefire, with regular protests taking place near its headquarters in Cairo.
“We feel that as an organisation which sails with the word ‘Peace’, we have a responsibility to speak out about the horror of what is currently happening in Gaza,” a Peace Boat statement said.
The 77,000-tonne ship arrived in Egypt carrying 1,800 passengers, many of whom joined the calls for ceasefire.
Pacific World will sail on from Port Said to Sri Lankan capital Colombo, Ms Hallows said.
Peace Boat organises educational voyages for which passengers pay to sail the world while enrolling in lectures and cultural exchange programmes on board its vessels.
Launched in 1983, the organisation has docked in various Israeli ports where it conducted cultural exchanges between Palestinian and Israeli youth movements including in Haifa and Ashdod.
“In more hopeful times, Peace Boat organised programmes for Israeli and Palestinian youth to meet on board using the ship as a space for dialogue, but unfortunately it has been many years since these programmes have been able to take place,” Ms Hallows said.
The death toll in Gaza as a result of the continuing Israeli bombardment surpassed 10,500 on Wednesday, according to the enclave's Health Ministry.