NEW YORK - A group of Americans activists is joining a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians languishing in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza. Nearly half of the 36 Americans who will sail on the US flagged boat "The Audacity of Hope" attended a Monday news conference announcing they are flying later in the day to Athens to prepare for the journey. Activists describe Israeli restrictions on Gaza's 1.5 million residents as a human rights violation. But Israel claims its blockade stops weapons from reaching militants in the Palestinian territory. On Monday, the Americans appealed to the United Nations and the United States to prevail upon the Israeli authorities not to attack the aid ships -- as the Israel has done in the past -- saying they have no malafide intentions except to provide humanitarian aid to the hapless Palestinians living in the occupied territory. They criticized the US lawmakers on Capitol hill of being "prisoners of the Israeli lobby."