Second aid boat hopes to leave Greece for Gaza

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Pro-Palestinian campaigners said a second boat would try to leave Greek waters to challenge Israel's naval blockade of Gaza Wednesday, joining a French yacht that left a day earlier.

The "Juliano", flying a Sierra Leonean flag and hired by Greek, Norwegian and Swedish activists, would try and leave the port of Perama, near Athens, Maria Norden, a Social Democrat deputy from Sweden, told AFP.

"All our on-board papers are in order, we are going to try to leave today," she said by phone. "We are waiting clearance from the Greek authorities."

Greek officials turned back the boat on Tuesday afternoon under the terms of a ban imposed on any vessel bound for Gaza, she said.

Norden is one of six passengers on the vessel, part of what had been a group of 10 ships hoping to join the flotilla and bring aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

Greece has justified its decision to stop them leaving by saying it is for their own safety.

The MV Dignite/Al Karama, which left Greek waters early on Tuesday, is heading slowly towards Gaza, a spokesman for the French Boat to Gaza campaign told AFP.

It was still hoping it would be joined by others from the ill-fated Freedom Flotilla which had been due to set sail last week.

© 2011 AFP

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