The boat carrying US
activists seeking to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip has
been towed back to port by a Greek coast guard after setting sail
from a port in Greece.
The boat, dubbed The Audacity of Hope, is one of nine vessels
carrying several hundred activists along with dozens from United
States who say they want to deliver
aid to the Palestinian territory. The boat left the port of Perama
The ship left the port of Perama and
sailed for an hour after which it was intercepted by a Greek coast
guard ship that demanded it return to the port, Joseph Dana, a
journalist for the Nation magazine on board the boat, told Al
"We were surrounded by commandos pointing live weapons at the
ship," he said.
"Now we are following one major coast guard vessel and we are
[being] tracked by two other zodiac vessels.
"The commandos are still on board, but they are not pointing
The boat is returning back to a port, but the ship is returning to
a different port for fear of sabotage attempts, Dana said.
The Greek embassy in Tel Aviv put out a statement confirming that
the Greek coast guard has enforced a decision by the Civil Defence
to prevent all flotilla vessels from leaving Greek ports.
Greece's Civil Protection Ministry said coast guard authorities
had been ordered to take "all appropriate measures'' to implement
It also said the "broader maritime area of the eastern
Mediterranean will be continuously monitored by electronic means
for tracking, where applicable, the movements of the ships
allegedly participating'' in the flotilla.
"What I am witnessing right now at this moment is Israeli
diplomatic pressure on the Greek government to ensure that these
boats do not leave any port inside Greece," Dana said.
The boat has not been free of sabotage attempts. On June 24, an
anonymous complaint was filed against the ship's "seaworthiness".
The Israel Law Centre (Shurat HaDin), took responsibility for the
complaint in the Israeli press.