Published: 06.18.10, 18:28 / Israel News
About 70 yachts from various countries arrived Friday at the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon as part of a peace sail organized by a Turkish national.
The 2010 Emir sail originated in Istanbul and passed through northern Cyprus, Syria, and Lebanon before heading to Israel.
The sail's objective is to promote peace and regional cooperation in the field of maritime tourism. Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaaknin welcomed the flotilla and said it constituted a response to previous terror sails.
"We are happy to see dozens of yachts arriving from across the world, including from Turkey," he said. "The city of Ashkelon welcomes the sailors and hopes that the message of peace in the Middle East will come out of Ashkelon."
The Emir sail has been held for the past 20 years and has made sure to make a stop in Israel even during sensitive periods. In light of the recent global condemnation leveled last Israel, the notion of a peace flotilla took on special meaning for participants this year.
The initiative is headed by Hasan Kacmaz, a Turkish national who refers to Ashkelon as his "second home," saying the city's municipal leaders are his "best friends."