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Gaza-bound US boat stopped, returning to Greek port

Saturday July 02, 2011 09:38:17 AM, Agencies

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US flotilla boat heads to Gaza fron Greece

Perama (Greece): 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 on Friday.
 

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 Jazeera.

"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 weapons anymore."

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 the ban.

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.

 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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