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Greece Continues to Block Gaza-Bound Flotilla

HeadlineJul 05, 2011

The Greek coast guard is continuing to block any Gaza-bound ships from leaving Greek ports. On Monday, Greek authorities intercepted a Canadian ship which had set sail for Gaza carrying medicine. The action came three days after the Greek coast guard intercepted the U.S.-flagged ship, “The Audacity of Hope,” minutes after it set sail for Gaza. A group of international activists had hoped to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza aboard a 10-ship flotilla. But the ships have been unable to sail due to acts of sabotage and the ban by the Greek government. Jane Hirschmann helped organize the U.S. Boat to Gaza.

Jane Hirschmann, spokesperson for U.S. Boat to Gaza: “We’ll never give up, as long as Gaza is under siege and the Palestinian people are not free. It is our responsibility, when governments do not act correctly, for civil society to do the right thing. And we will never give up. We will continue to sail until Gaza is free.”

Huwaida Arraf of the Free Gaza Movement accused the Greek government of unfairly blocking the ships from sailing.

Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement organizer: “What we see is that the Greek government is using various forms of administrative delays to stop our boats, and these can’t last forever. They’ve been completely irrational in some of the demands that they’ve made from us, and yet we’ve run around and tried to satisfy them. And every time we satisfy one, they ask for something else. These administrative delays, we know, are a tactic, but in effect our boats are legal, our boats are seaworthy, they can delay us a day, a week, two weeks, but eventually our boats will get out.”

The Greek government defended its actions.

Gregory Delavekouras, Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman: “It’s, first and foremost, an issue of security, for the people themselves and for stability in the region. And this is why the international community in its entirety has taken the same position. Everybody believes that there is a real threat for life for those who participate in the flotilla and also a real danger of escalation in the region, which is right now in a very fragile position.”

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