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.