Saturday, July 2, 2011

Greece seizes Gaza-bound US boat

American activists stand on their boat named "The Audacity of Hope" moored in Perama, near Athens, Greece, on June 30, 2011.

Source: Press TV

Greek authorities have reportedly seized the US "Audacity of Hope" moments after it set sail for Gaza to break Israel's blockade of the Palestinian coastal strip.

American activists took to Twitter on Friday to say they were intercepted by the Greek coast guard just moments after they left Perama port near Athens, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Greece's Civil Protection Ministry said on Friday that the coast guard had been ordered to take “all appropriate measures” to bar Gaza-bound Greek and international ships from leaving Greece's ports.

The ban comes as organizers of the humanitarian aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip say the Tel Aviv regime is making Greece halt the convoy.

They complain that Greece is throwing up “administrative obstacles” for the activists in response to pressure from Israel, the Associated Press reported on Monday.

“We call on the Greek government to let us sail,” Ann Wright said.

The flotilla members also say Israel has attempted to stop them by sabotaging the convoy. They said a joint Greek, Swedish and Norwegian boat was found sabotaged with serious damage to its propeller, a Press TV correspondent reported on Tuesday.

The flotilla activists suspect that Israeli agents were responsible for the damage.

Greece has recently increased relations with Israel, and the two countries are currently holding preliminary talks on potential energy deals. Greece's cash-strapped government has also explored venues to acquire more overseas investment, possibly from Israel, to offset its financial crisis.

Israel's security cabinet has ordered the navy to use all possible means to prevent the incoming international aid flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip.

Some 1.5 million people in Gaza are being denied their basic rights, including the freedom of movement and the right to appropriate living conditions, work, health and education.

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