The campaign to free Gaza from its grim fate has picked up an unlikely new supporter: Mark Regev, the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
What? Is the Israeli government now getting behind the ragtag group of international activists known as the Free Gaza Movement that is challenging Israel's Mediterranean blockade by sending small boats from Cyprus to Gaza?
Well, not exactly.
Turns out Regev and the Free Gaza Movement have very different ideas about what it means to free Gaza.
"Free Gaza is a cool idea," said Regev. "But free them from what? If they want to free Gaza, they should take out women who fear for their lives, Christians and gays. We want to free Gaza from this terrible Taliban regime. This terrible Taliban regime is oppressing women, Christians and gays."
Hamas rule in Gaza has not been especially kind to its rivals. Since leading a swift military rout in June, 2007 of PA/Fatah forces loyal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas has retained tight control of Gaza.
Hamas forces have opened fire on Fatah loyalists commemorating the death of Yasser Arafat, killing six. Fatah leaders have been forced into exile and hiding. Hamas, along with its Fatah rivals running the West Bank, has been accused of torturing suspects. Gay Palestinians in Gaza, like those in the West Bank, must keep their sexual identity a secret, lest they risk persecution. Christian sites have been attacked by unknown forces in Gaza, and one Christian activist was killed last year. Women in Gaza are now more likely to wear headscarves to avoid public criticism.
And militants in Gaza continue to fire crude rockets and mortars into southern Israel.
"If they want to save people from their terrible fate in Gaza they should take oppressed gays, oppressed Christians, oppressed women," said Regev. "They have become a propaganda tool for Hamas."
In response, organizers with the Free Gaza Movement placed the blame for Gaza's troubles entirely at the feet of Israel, which has led an international campaign to isolate the Hamas-led rulers ever since they won democratic Palestinian elections in 2006.
"Israel's siege is indiscriminate, and unjustly affects everyone in Gaza - including, but not limited to, the women, Christians, and gays that you speak of," the organizers said in a statement that made no mention of Hamas. "These denials all stem from your government's policy of collective punishment, in direct violation of international law and basic human dignity - both Israel's and that of the Palestinian people."
Since Hamas took control of Gaza last year, Israel has dramatically reduced the amount of food, fuel and supplies going through its border crossings with Gaza that are the main Palestinian lifeline to the outside world.
Last month, a tenuous cease-fire crumbled when Israel staged a military raid in Gaza centered on a tunnel the Israeli military said was being prepared for an imminent kidnapping operation. That sparked new rocket fire from Gaza - and Israel followed by cutting off all-but-essential aid to Gaza.
Since the Israeli military operation on Nov. 4th, according to humanitarian groups, about 700 truck loads of goods have gone into Gaza.
That's what should be going in-and-out on a single day.
The ongoing Israeli restrictions, which the government says it will keep in place until Palestinian militants stop firing rockets and mortars from Gaza, have generated new impetus for the Free Gaza Movement and allies trying to send in boatloads of aid to Gaza.
Israel has is taking new steps to quash the movement by discouraging Arab nations from joining the initiative and preventing activists in Israel from heading to Gaza with aid.
Israel says those that want to donate aid to Gaza should go through Israel. But as long as Israel keeps the borders closed, that doesn't seem like a viable route for Palestinian supporters around the world.
Tonight, the Free Gaza Movement plans to send its fourth boat to challenge the Israeli restrictions. And they invited Regev to come along.
"We appeal to your humanity and once again echo a point of evident agreement between us: Yes, Free Gaza is a good idea - now let's put into practice," the organizers wrote.
Chances are pretty good that Regev's support for freeing Gaza won't extend to getting on the boat...