GAZA CITY (AFP) - Two boats carrying 44 pro-Palestinian activists from Cyprus arrived in the Gaza Strip on Saturday after Israel allowed them through despite its tight blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory. The boats set sail on Friday carrying activists from 17 countries, including Israel, who hoped to draw attention to the blockade of Gaza which has been ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement since June 2007. The boats sailed through choppy grey waters and into Gaza City's main port, where they were greeted by around 2,000 people waving Palestinian flags, many of them motoring around the harbour in boats. Israel had initially warned the activists to stay away from Gaza's coastal waters but later allowed them to pass, hours after the crew said their communications systems had been jammed as they sailed through stormy seas. "They wanted provocation at sea but they won't get it. We know who the passengers are and what they are bringing with them and so we have no problem letting them through," Foreign Ministry spokesman Aviv Shiron told AFP. Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, a Jerusalem-based spokeswoman for the so-called Free Gaza Movement which organised the event, said the boats' communications systems had been attacked by "electronic piracy" earlier in the day. "We are not experienced sailors. As a result, there is concern about the health and safety of the people on board (should) an emergency develop," the crew said in a message, according to Godfrey-Goldstein. An attempt by a third boat carrying reporters from the Israeli port of Ashdod to meet the two vessels failed because of communications problems, Godfrey-Goldstein said. The two converted fishing boats set sail under Greek flags from Cyprus on Friday morning carrying the activists determined to break an Israeli embargo that was tightened when Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007. Since then Israel has sealed the territory off from all but vital humanitarian aid in a bid to put pressure on Palestinian militants, who have fired hundreds of rockets at southern Israel in the past year. The boats, Liberty and Free Gaza, left Larnaca port on Cyprus's south coast on a 370-kilometre (230-mile) voyage, carrying 200 hearing aids for Gaza children and 5,000 balloons. The activists initially expected to be stopped by Israel, which maintains a tight naval blockade on Gaza and had warned the boats not to enter its waters, saying that to do so would support "the regime of a terror organisation." Around 20 Gaza fishing boats flying Palestinian flags had earlier left Gaza City's main port in a bid to meet the two blockade runners, but were turned back when Israeli gunships in the distance fired warning shots. Back at the port hundreds of people had gathered to await the boats' arrival, waving flags as a local band performed. The activists hail from 17 countries including Israel and are aged between 22 and 81, organisers said. Among them are students, lawyers, doctors, journalists and an online poker player. Mostly American and British, they include Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of former British premier Tony Blair who is now an international Middle East peace envoy. Many of the activists said they had received death threats before they set sail, and some demonstrators dropped out.