French boat to Gaza blocked in Crete: organiser

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A lone French yacht carrying activists hoping to run the Israeli blockade on Gaza was on Thursday blocked in Crete by the Greek coast guard when it stopped to refuel, an organiser said.

"The Dignite/Al Karama was taken to Sitia in Crete by the Greek coast guard after being stopped in a nearby port while it was refuelling," Claude Leostic told AFP by telephone from Paris.

"The authorities are stopping the boat from setting sail for various administrative reasons," Leostic said.

The boat, which is carrying 12 pro-Palestinian activists, had sneaked out of a Greek port early on Tuesday in defiance of a ban on any ships setting sail from Greece in an attempt to run the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

All the other boats which had been expected to participate in a 10-vessel international aid flotilla to Gaza are currently being blocked from leaving ports in Greece, while an Irish boat, which organisers say was sabotaged, is undergoing repairs in Turkey.

The flotilla had been due to set sail last week but was hit by a wave of administrative obstacles which organisers have blamed on political pressure coming from Israel.

Officials in Athens say they imposed the ban for the "safety" of the activists on board in the wake of last year's bloody showdown when Israeli commandos raided a six-ship flotilla in a confrontation that left nine Turkish activists dead.

More than 300 activists from 22 countries had signed up to participate in this year's flotilla, among them dozens of middle-aged and elderly Americans and Europeans.

Israel has made no secret of its determination to prevent the Freedom Flotilla II from reaching Gaza, which has been under a blockade since 2006 after militants there snatched an Israeli soldier who is still being held at a secret location.

© 2011 AFP

2 Comments To This Article

  • John Adams posted:

    on 7th July 2011, 15:23:44 - Reply

    One Israeli soldier - What about the estimated 10,000 Palestinian prisoners many of them children..What about the countless UN resolutions Israel ignores. What about ALL the land/water since 1967 stolen from Palestine, Jordan, Syria (Golan) The illegal 'wall' steals more Palestinian land every week. Why can Palestine not defends its borders? Many of the peace activists are Jewish. For every Israeli citizen killed there are probably 300 Palestians killed. One of the boats in the flotilla is made up entirely of Jews (including Israeli's). Israel controls the media and the UK Parliament - Please read Jimmy Carter's book 'Peace not Apartheid' Bishop Desmond Tutu on a visit to Palestine made the comment "Apartheid here is worse then it ever was in South Africa" Lord Kaufmann described the Israeli goverment as being "like the same people who drove my parents out of Poland - Nazi's". To quote Rachel Corrie a week before she was buried alive by a Israeli bulldozer "how can this be going on in the World without the World knowing about it. Again I urge people to see who owns and controls the media, BBC tv/radio, ITV, newspapers etc.
  • April Milliken posted:

    on 7th July 2011, 12:29:14 - Reply

    Bravo for Greece and Israel. When the "missing" soldier is returned, perhaps they can resume discussion. I'm ashamed of the Americans and Europeans that participate in this "flotilla" activity. It could be their son. When does this all stop? When are there rules for an amnesty of sorts? I'm not a lover of Israel but this is not the way. They have a right to defend their borders....and this is their border for the moment.