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Flotilla organizers: "We are ready to sail"

This post has been UPDATED (see bottom)

ATHENS – According to recent tweets from the US boat “The Audacity of Hope,” which is part of the flotilla waiting to depart from Greece towards Gaza any day now, “the boat successfully completed its sea trials – there is no reason for any further delays on this matter, we are ready to sail.”

Speaking to a packed room of over 70 international journalists in a sweltering Athens conference room, organizers of Freedom Flotilla II said that the flotilla will set sail from various Mediterranean ports in the “coming days.” Organizers informed the international press corps that the purpose of the flotilla is both humanitarian and political in nature. Despite, clear safety warnings to both journalists and passengers by the Israeli government, flotilla representatives said that they will sail to Gaza in solidarity with the people of Palestinian. New York Times journalist Jim Roberts recently tweeted that he WILL cover the flotilla.

US Boat Organizer and former US army colonel, Ann Wright, said that an Israeli legal organization is behind the complaints against the US boat to Gaza which has been stuck at an unnamed Athens sea port for the past week. Wright strongly proclaimed that despite the serious pressure against the US boat to Gaza, the boat will in fact set sail for Gaza this week carrying  over 3000 letters from Americans to Gazans.

Organizers are mum about when exactly boats will set sail and from which ports in Greece. However, they were clear that the flotilla is part of an international effort of people confronting their governments over the harsh treatment of civil societies everywhere. Israel has reiterated its willingness to use military force against the flotilla boat in order to bar them from entering the Gaza Strip.

Despite Israel’s harsh warning against journalists from covering the flotilla, journalists from the New York Times, CBS News, and CNN have arrived in Athens. They are preparing for the journey and the possible violent reaction of the Israeli military.

UPDATE –  18:37 : According to reports, Prime Minister Netanyahu has called off the previous threat issued by the Israel Government Press Office that foreign journalists aboard the Freedom Flotilla II could face a 10-year ban from Israel.

UPDATE II: 21:11: Electronic Intifada is reporting that one of the ships, “Juliano,” that is set to sail to Gaza has been sabotaged -its propellor shaft has been damaged.

Joseph Dana is in Greece reporting for The Nation, and about to embark on the American ship to Gaza.

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    1. bernardking

      have a nice sail to egypt ….before you get to Gaza, think about the myriad of countries that you are ignoring, who are much worse off then Gaza. And countries whose governments would more then welcome any AID and aren’t mortal enemies with neighboring countries. MAYBE the answer is convincing the Pals’ to toss out Hamas…just MAYBE that would be the first step to ending the blockage…NOT a bunch of spoiled Westerners imposing their views on the situation

      “The siege on goods is now 60 to 70 percent over.”

      “Two luxury hotels are opening in Gaza this month. Thousands of new cars are plying the roads. A second shopping mall — with escalators imported from Israel — will open next month. Hundreds of homes and two dozen schools are about to go up. A Hamas-run farm where Jewish settlements once stood is producing enough fruit that Israeli imports are tapering off. ”

      “Israel allows in 20 a week, but that does not meet the need. Hundreds of BMWs, pickup trucks and other vehicles have arrived in recent months from Libya, driven through Egypt and sold via the unmonitored tunnels. Dozens of white Kia Sportage models, ubiquitous on the street, are widely thought to have come from the same dealership in Benghazi, Libya, that was looted after the uprising there began. ”

      “We have 100 percent vaccination; no polio, measles, diphtheria or AIDS,” said Mahmoud Daher, a World Health Organization official here. “We’ve never had a cholera outbreak.”

      Reply to Comment
    2. Dana

      Reaction of the US military??? What??

      Reply to Comment
    3. Sam Smith

      “the flotilla is part of an international effort of people confronting their governments over the harsh treatment of civil societies everywhere”
      What a bunch of hogwash. Let us all know when your reach Latakiya to confront the Syrian government over its murder of 1,600 civilians.

      Reply to Comment
    4. BK Offering prisoners a tv and 3 meals a day doesn’t change the fact that they are prisoners. If you really think we should stop supporting a decent life for Palestinians because there are worse things happening, then we should immediately release every murderer too. What is the murder of a wife, a relative, a friend, a stranger, compared to the countless victims of Pol Pot, Mao, Hitler, Zionism?

      Reply to Comment
    5. bernardking

      englebert – my point is this is matter is trivial compared with the ills of many other countries in the world. and this exercise while in nature is good hearted is useless. fix the political situation first, but forcing Israel into being the bully for PR gain is immature at best. these boats are going to El Arish the goods will be transported over land. or you will be towed to Ashdod and arrested for trespassing .

      I do support a decent life for the Pal’s and many of them have it better in Israel then in the refugee camps in Syria and Jordan where they are treated worse. If they learn to live in peace the restrictions and the freedom they experience increase. as evidenced in West Bank and even in Gaza despite Hamas being a bunch of thugs. only Israel would be forced to give in to criminals in the court of world opinion. NAME me one other country that ever has to help its enemies democratically elected government with aid? And if Gaza is so wonderful, why won’t Egypt take it back….??????

      Reply to Comment
    6. Jafra Jenin

      I’m sure that BK would not have had a problem with the Nazi concentration camps. After all, they had angora rabbit farms and restaurants!

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    7. H.David

      bernardking- by the way we are in 2011 and what happened in Gaza was in 2008almost three years ago, Gazans have lived in this awful conditions for too long. i don’t know who are you to determine whether they are worthy of help or not. even the simpliest help offered to palestinains is negotiable! just keep it in mind ,after all, israel did steal their land so before you evade your humanity read some history, maybe you can find ways to exonerate israel from its crime towards humanity.

      Reply to Comment
    8. bernardking

      H David:

      Is Hamas committing crimes against humanity? These are their people, they seem to be building, new cars seem to be coming in….there is money somewhere.

      Stolen LAND – Israel gave the land back, they don’t have any sovereignty over Gaza at all! So if the Israelis aren’t allowing certain goods in, because the elected gov’t of Gaza is a known terrorist gang…then why aren’t you blaming Egypt. Egypt could deliver goods in through the Southern border. Have they ….why haven’t they…?

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    9. BK The world has changed. Hamas is less brutal than the settlers and certainly less corrupt than the Israeli government. Mandela was a terrorist too, you know.
      “That day, december 27th 2008, will forever be etched in our memories as the darkest and most shameful day in the long history of the Jewish people.”
      Miko Peled

      Reply to Comment
    10. bernardking

      Engel – “Hamas is less brutal than the settlers and certainly less corrupt than the Israeli government” – I don’t love the settlers either, but less brutal, I highly, highly doubt the validity of that statement. And the settlers – aren’t the elected government in Israel (though in a way you might think they are).

      I want peace just as much as the next guy…I have 0 interest in Gaza. Its not Israel’s responsibility anymore. The people sowed their fate when they elected a government that has a stated aim of destroying Israel. Name me one other country who has to provide and coddle another whose stated and declared aim is the above?

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    11. BK “Name me one other country who has to provide and coddle another whose stated and declared aim is the above?”
      Name me one other country without declared borders, without a constitution, with no respect for international law, based on ethnic cleansing of the rightful inhabitants of the land; and that is rewarded for its policies with at least 3 billion dollars a year plus unlimited political support and secured veto’s at the UN Security Counsel. The 21st century is about the deconstruction of myths, a logical consequence – and one of the better ones – of the information era. It’s not about Gaza, it’s about all the stolen land, about all the refugees.

      Reply to Comment

      Bernard if it is not Israel’s problem anymore then let Israel stop the blockade of Gaza.

      And let Israel next stop the illegal settlements of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Did Fatah threaten Israel as well?

      Israel steps on the rights and persons of Palestinians whether or not the Palestinians threaten Israelis. Yet the injustices committed against the Palestinians living there for centuries is real and present.

      Israel relishes starting wars of attrition even when their opposition is unarmed civilians like the 1400 Gazans that died in Operation Cast Lead. 22 days of bloodshed and mayhem after Christmas of 2008.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Michael W.

      BK, ignore Engel. He’s just a guy from the Netherlands. He has made it clear that he doesn’t believe in your (and all Jewish Israelis) right to a home.

      Reply to Comment
    14. sh

      “Name me one other country who has to provide and coddle another whose stated and declared aim is the above?”

      Gaza is not a country. Odd how so many choose to forget that when sermonizing about what it should or shouldn’t do. Gaza is a sliver of land forced to depend on Israel for services and also to pay for them. It is cut off from everywhere, even the rest of itself, known these days as the West Bank and collectively as Palestine but which also isn’t country. Clear now?

      Reply to Comment
    15. H.David

      bernard- Newton’s third law of motion might explain to you why you catogrize Hamas( and maybe all palestinians) as terrorist,as maybe their action is a reaction of long israeli terrorism, its even in the Torah”an eye for an eye” am not justifying any violent actions that both sides practice but you can’t simply expect palestinian to standby while their rights are being digisted.Israel is not looking for peace, the evidance is ongoing work to buid settlements. the tyranny and the obscenity of israel is sabotaging all means of PEACE.Yes, why not from Egypt? why not through ballons better yet maybe spiderman will come flying with these goods?!! the FLoritta is an act of humanity. Let israel use its famous democracy to accept this fact and let it be…

      Reply to Comment
    16. Just a question: why some people are afraid if someothers wants to go to Gaza Strip? Is that side of the middle east sionist’s property?
      What do you have to hide that you don’t want to show?
      Please, don’t say about kassam missle, because are just a fake missle.

      Reply to Comment
    17. bernardking

      here is my final point…

      Israel pulls out of Gaza in 2005 – I assume all of you are happy. Even I was …as I knew Gaza was unsustainable

      Missiles start firing from gaza soon thereafter (guess they wanted the Israelis to stay and hang out longer)

      Gaza has free elections, they elect Hamas. The people know what Hama’s is about and know Israels likely reaction. After Hamas is elected a small civil war erupts between remaining Fatah party members and Hamas. Arabs killing Arabs…wonderful peace loving people

      Hama’s once elected, has absolutely no desire to have peace with Israel. In fact the missiles keep coming and coming. Israel says, you know what…enough…enforces the blockade. You don’t want us, we don’t want you. Tit for tat

      After years of missiles, thousands upon thousands, Israel decides this is ridiculous, invades Gaza in 2008. As a result of the tiny size of Gaza, many innocent civilians are caught in crossfire (also due to their cowardly gov’t who instigated this to begin with and likes to hide in places like schools and mosques). Gaza is very badly damaged.

      Now we are here in 2011, the missiles have nearly ceased, more goods have started to cross into Gaza (maybe due to last years Flotilla, maybe not). Gaza is building luxury hotels and restaurants. New cars arrive daily. Egypt has started to ease its border (note: funny how the Egyptians want nothing to do with gaza either). But the core of the issue is Hama’s wants nothing to do with Israel, just its destruction from the sea to the Jordan river. Yet it demands Israel provide electricity, water, goods, and everything else for its survival. Does this make any sense. Why wouldn’t they ask to be support by their “friends” in Egypt. And the crazy part is, Israel is compliant!

      Now you may find me to be crazy…but this situation just doesn’t make any LOGICAL sense to me. Lets keep this focused on Gaza…

      Reply to Comment
    18. @Bernardking
      are you kidding?

      Reply to Comment
    19. I will let Miko Peled state my final point:
      ‘So, those of you who wish to associate yourself with Zionism and AIPAC and drape yourselves in the Zionist flag, the flag that has come to symbolize intolerance, hate, racism and brutality, feel free to do so. But know this: When the trials begin, when the tribunals take their seat, when the “truth and reconciliation” commission begins its work and when you are finally shamed into admitting that you are wrong, remember to go down on your knees and beg for forgiveness of the people you so blatantly wronged. You will not be able to claim that you “did not know” because we watched you dance as others were counting their dead.’

      Reply to Comment
    20. max

      Bernardking is describing facts, in historical order.
      Pitocco prefers narratives: reordering the events and filling-in speculations when something’s missing, and rhetoric questions based on fabrications.

      Reply to Comment
    21. max

      Engelbert, your point is that form replaces substance, and pathos replaces facts

      Reply to Comment
    22. Max BK is stating facts, but also leaves out many. That’s as good as lying. To name just two:
      – Israel with US help tried to provoque a civil war in Gaza after democratic elections, and forced the EU to withdraw funds. So the outcome was exactly what Israel wanted.
      Hamas never had a chance to prove itself.
      – The massacre of 2008 was planned long in advance and came after a truce that was respected by Hamas and not by Israel. There was no intention whatsoever to kill terrorists: Israel deliberately targeted the children coming home or going to school just before noon. Calling that ‘caught in a crossfire’ is the kind of cynicism you would expect from the worst thugs in this world, not from anyone belonging to a democracy.

      Reply to Comment
    23. max

      Israel didn’t try to provoke a civil war – the civil war happened between the PA and Hamas. The PA lost and its people had to learn to fly (they couldn’t).
      Israel, US, EU and a few other countries simply declared that they’re not going to support a democratically elected terrorist organization
      “2008 was planned long in advance “ – If the Israeli army doesn’t have offensive plans on each of its borders it’d be a criminal act towards the citizens of Israel. That’s what an army is for. So your statement is trivial and nonsensical.
      “a truce that was respected by Hamas” – In the month prior to the incursion, there’ve been over 200 Qassam rockets and mortar shells fired at Israel. You can argue about “who started”, but your statement is patently false.
      “Israel deliberately targeted the children” – we need facts: lies are cheap; the blogosphere is full of them.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Borg

      given that Greece and Israel currently enjoy good relations, Athens might not have been the best place to disembark from. Next time, the flotilla should sail from Sudan. It is equidistant from Israel and does not have diplomatic relations with Israel

      Reply to Comment
    25. Sam Smith

      How about sailing next time to Latakiya, where people are being gunned down by snipers and tanks?

      Reply to Comment
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