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Greece stops Gaza strip-bound boat

07-02-2011 08:45 BJT

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Greece has prevented a boat of US activists from sailing to join a flotilla of pro-Palestinian campaigners planning to sail to the Gaza Strip. Greece announced it was banning vessels heading to Gaza leaving Greek ports.

US protesters on a boat bound for the Gaza Strip were escorted back to shore on Friday. The Greek coastguard intercepted the boat shortly after it sailed out to sea.

The flotilla, named the "Audacity of Hope", was due to leave at least a week ago, but the departure was postponed amid allegations of sabotage.

Greek authorities said that ships destined for Gaza were prohibited from leaving its ports, adding that it was not safe to do so.

But activists say the coastguard's interception was illegal and would not deter the rest of the flotilla.

Jane Hirschmann, Spokeswoman of "Audacity of Hope" Aid Ship, said, "This is an illegal siege. Clearly an illegal occupation, the same that is going on in Gaza, illegal occupation right now. So Israel and the United States outsourced the occupation they have given it now to Greece."

Israel has urged foreign governments not to let the latest convoy get under way. Irish activists accused Israel of sabotaging their boat in Turkey, stopping it from sailing to Gaza. Earlier this week, the propeller of a Swedish ship was also reported damaged after berthing in a Greek port.

Israel has enforced a Gaza border blockade since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized the territory in 2007. The Jewish state insists its blockade of Gaza stops weapons from reaching Hamas. Last year, an Israeli raid on a flotilla killed nine activists on a Turkish vessel. Each side blamed the other for the violence.

The Greek government action seems to be a major blow to activists who had said they want to break Israel's sea blockade and deliver aid to the Palestinian territory.

 

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: CNTV.CN

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