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Greek Coast Guard stop US boat from setting sail for Gaza

The ship’s organizers had decided to sail without permission from the Greek authorities, claiming delays in its departure were politically motivated. Earlier, Greece issued a blanket ban on all ships sailing to Gaza from its ports.

The US boat of the 2011 Gaza-bound flotilla at Piraeus port, Greece (photo: Mya Guarnieri)

The Greek Coast Guard intercepted the Gaza flotilla’s American ship this afternoon, less than one hour after it had set sail from the Athens port. The Greek authorities demanded the boat return to the port, resulting in a protracted standoff at sea, with the captain of the U.S. boat in talks with the authorities over their demands. After a couple hours, and under the threat of an armed takeover by the Greek authorities, the boat agreed to be escorted back to land. It arrived at the Athens coast guard port at roughly 8.:30 PM local time. As the time of writing, most reporters have left the boat, but the passengers remained on it.

It emerged that just before the boat had set sail, Greece issued a blanket ban on ships sailing to Gaza from its ports. According to the decision, approved by Minister for Citizen Protection Christos Papoutsis, the “broader maritime area of eastern Mediterranean will be continuously monitored by electronic means for tracking, where applicable, the movements of the ships allegedly participating in such campaign” [to sail to Gaza].

The boat, named the Audacity of Hope, left the Athens port at 4:30 PM en route to the Gaza Strip, carrying 35 passengers, five crew members and 11 journalists. It departed without permission from the Greek authorities to sail.

Former U.S. Army colonel Anne Wright, leader of mission, told +972 soon after the ship set sail that it is “defiant in going to Gaza. Israeli and Greek won’t pressure won’t stop us.” Along with its 51 passengers, the ship is carrying letters for the people of Gaza. Israel’s Channel 1 TV looked though the entire boat before its departure.

Around the time the American boat was stopped by the Greek Coast Guard, the organizers of the Canadian ship said in a Twitter message that they are being held at port by the Greek authorities:

ALERT: Greek authorities preventing Canadian Boat and #Flotilla2 from sailing. Israeli blockade of Gaza reaches shores of Greece.

On Friday evening, Haaretz reported that Greece had promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that it would stop the flotilla. Israel, the report said, used its influence in recent months to help the Greeks in their negotiations with the European Union regarding the country’s financial crisis. The two governments had also tightened their military cooperation. “The flotilla organizers’ didn’t understand that this year’s Greece is not last year’s, and they paid a price for it,” an Israeli source told Haaretz. Also on Thursday, Netanyahu, speaking at an Israel Air Force academy ceremony, singled out the Greek prime minister in thanking world leaders assisting Israel in working to stop the flotilla.

Earlier this week, organizers said that they have complied with all requests to inspect their vessel and its “seaworthiness,” claiming the boat is seaworthy and that the pressure from the Greeks is politically motivated. In order to prove this, they have decided to sail and test the Greeks authorities’ reaction. The captain told me in an interview from the wheelhouse that he expects to be arrested and personally fined for his actions, despite the fact that he claims to have done nothing wrong legally.

For more live updates please check out my twitter feed: @ibnezra.

Joseph Dana is in Greece reporting for The Nation from the American ship to Gaza.

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    1. Heleen Witte

      I wish you all the best! Come home savely!

      Reply to Comment
    2. Yoni Ra

      So that is a confirmation that there is zero humanitarian AID on this ship?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ed Chavez

      Why do those who have suffered and survived the holocaust enact similar suffering on the people of Palestine. Why do these people have so little compassion ?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Sam Smith

      Go home losers. “the pressure from the Greeks is politically motivated” – no kidding. And your whole flotilla is just out of the kindness of your hearts.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Sam Smith

      “Alice Walker is still writing a poem next to me on an iPad. It looks like a long one and she is definitely in a writing zone.”
      She should go home and keep writing her version of The Protocols – according to her interviews she seems to be making a lot of progress.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Holden

      Luvin’ it.
      The captain (no doubt under threat from his peaceful passengers) left port AGAINST the instructions of the Greek Port authority. I hope he’s been paid well and in advance, because he’ll be charged with aiding and abetting a terror act. The boat will be impounded and the brave fauxtistas are going to jail. Everyone on the AUDACITY should simply jump overboard in protest and stay there, refusing rescue, dying for Gaza.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Samuel Snaith

      one day, humanity might return to Earth, until then …

      Reply to Comment
    8. Thanks for your great work. It is unspeakably sad to see Greece acting as Israel’s enforcer, robbing more hope from people who’ve been treated like trash for 63 years.
      But at least with what you’re doing, the emperor continues to lose more and more fig leaves, and soon his shame will be fully exposed.

      Reply to Comment
    9. PeaceofJustice

      @yoni ra, @ sam smith, & @samuel snaith, your kinds of sarcasms are soooooo zionist.What’s NEW??

      Reply to Comment
    10. Gaza is not suffering. Lies…all of it.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Sam Smith

      What has happened, and is not clear only to the braindead poets on the ship, is that the international community has come to the conclusion that:
      a. The Israeli blockade is entirely accordant with international law, as the upcoming Palmer report will show.
      b. The flotillas do nothing to help the people of Gaza.

      This is why both the Turks and the Greeks are helping the Israelis.

      Reply to Comment
    12. hanry sinor

      Hello Guy
      Good Day

      I just want to request you that dont be stupid, You know very well that Greece is alreadys suffering with finceial crises and if yopu creat bad relation with US , then who will help you in bad conditions. so friend theny are going for helping to helpless people and wht=y you guys disturbing them. Thing is that when you are not in this positon to helps others , you should not stop to other who helping helpless people.
      Very sorry if u feel bad with my comments
      Again sorry in advance
      hanry sinor

      Reply to Comment
    13. Barry

      This comment has been deleted

      Reply to Comment
    14. Danny

      I have a suggestion for a new name to the American boat: Exodus. What a complete SHAME for Israel!

      Reply to Comment
    15. David

      how much money did this cost? All these donations wasted. Ha ha. hundreds of thousands of $$$$

      Reply to Comment
    16. Disappointed that we are setting this example for the world, and for our children. The grownups are the problem! Not only are the adult role models setting a bad example, but our kids’ books and TV shows are contributing too. http://smthgrlo.blogspot.com/2011/06/problems-in-parable.html.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Barry

      This comment has been deleted

      Reply to Comment
    18. Jan Bauman

      Wow! These ZIonist trolls are really vicious. Shame on them.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Barry

      comment was deleted for incitement and hate-talk. barry, you will be banned.

      Reply to Comment
    20. directrob

      Gee you seem to suggest war crimes. What did the Palestinian people do to you???

      Reply to Comment
    21. H.David

      I’m a palestinain and i hold no grudge toward any jew person.jewish is a religion but zionism is certianly not! palestinains can diffrentiate between jews and israeli’s .
      y do you speak about muslims this way its another sterotype! the same sterotype that goes around for jews.We go aroung unjustifying each others acting like god and claim to be men of holy books!
      I’m a christian and there is many christians in Gaza and the west bank. but i don’t know why we are making it a religious war? everything in the world is taking the wrong direction when we human are letting ourselves be slaves to such believes.Thanks to everybody that acknowledge the truth, thanks to Floritta. at last Am a human and its sad the world that we made.we are all living in the holcaust of our creation!

      Reply to Comment
    22. The US Boat to Gaza blew their own operation. If they hadn’t openly proclaimed to the world who they were, where they were, and what their intentions were, they could have probly gotten those letters to Gaza. They failed on many tactical points, the main one being their letter to President Obama to use his influence for safe pasage and that opened the door to this reasoning; The safest passage is no passage. The next time, be more secretive, or send the letters smartly,and use the post office.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Because I have been reporting from Athens, I have not been able to monitor comments regularly. Reading through the recent comments, I am now seriously considering closing the comment section on this channel. The vast majority of comments on this page are ad hominem attacks and threats based on racist thinking.

      In the coming days, I will make a decision about comments on this page. If I do close the comments, I will explain the rational in a post.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Sylvia

      This author was banned previously but has attempted to repeat placing comments. They are now deleted as soon as they enter the system

      Reply to Comment
    25. thomas

      Big money talks so loudly! In a voice that rings hollow, with a fetid breath. No matter how many lies, how many atrocities, how many children they kill, the Israelis remain just what they have always been, doing what they have always done ever since the Nazis taught them so well. Such a pity. Gotta wonder how did all the heartlessness begin?

      Reply to Comment
    26. jcgeny

      it is time to start the boycotting of Greece .

      the pressure is getting higher and higher seeing the zionists playing the world masters . i dare the next “11/9 1936” will start the 2 of august this year in america/usa , that like greece ,can not afford payback/pull-back of its monstrous debt …

      Reply to Comment
    27. Joseph, we should not let morons dictate our ways of communication, so please reconsider. Let’s just agree to ignore them.

      Reply to Comment
    28. David

      I see you are pushing a book titled ” The invention of the Jewish people ” on your twitter. http://twitter.com/#!/eluitsz .
      Who needs Hamas when we have this?

      Reply to Comment
    29. David

      Here is a piece by Radio Netherlands Wordwide on how their reporter left “his” boat after spending some time with people going.
      Excellent read.
      http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/gaza-activists-blinded-faith .
      It puts Joseph Dana’s take in perspective.
      Nothin’ like a boat trip with the far left.

      Reply to Comment
    30. David, Leslie Orgel’s second rule is: “Evolution is cleverer than you are.”
      We should never see Hamas, nor Zionism, as a given thing. Evolution will dissipate both in the dialectics of human endeavors. I just hope for the best; with the conviction that an universalist approach is the best option.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Actually, it proves that Joseph Dana is willing to take risks that the Dutch journalist are not willing to take. Our minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal declared this week that Holland should not interfere when “friendly” nations commit crimes against humanity. That means just 2: the US and Israel. I don’t know the reason why they went public, they must have known that it would be used to discredit the whole operation. Making sure that everybody talks about Hamas and not about Hedy Epstein or Alice Walker. They sure did a great service to the hasbara network.

      Reply to Comment
    32. David

      That is why you deny the Jewish people? What do you really know about Jews?
      Plugging such a title and then playing the humanist here. I am touched!
      I have to assume that your understanding of Zionism has similar depth. Mentioning Zionism along the lines of Hamas will not take you far in the real world.
      Similar to an above posters call to boycott Greece. YES. Lets just boycott all and everyone! That will make the world a better place.
      Zionism has made huge achievements only appreciable when one has a deeper understanding of Judaism and the Jews. The far left dreams of a time without Zionism, living in Israel, I sincerely doubt that.

      Reply to Comment
    33. David, you assume a lot, and know little. You obviously did not read Shlomo Sand. Even Jews and Zionists can be the subject of scientific research, as much as it seems to go against your gut feeling.

      Reply to Comment
    34. David

      Emphasis on scientific ( = non political ) .
      rereading some of your earlier posts on 972, you are a virulent anti-Zionist who does not shy away from in bringing the Holocaust. ‘nough said.
      Your “research”/Shlomo Sand is hardly to be taken seriously, like the vast majority of “research” done by “academics” in such academic powerhouses such as present Tehran or maybe in Berlin after 1933, proving all sorts. Nazi’s proved all kinds of “things”, problem is nobody wants to know.
      You are denying the existence of the Jewish people, to delegitimize Israel, through a “scientific” argument.
      Dr. Mengele also did ‘research’ on Jews.

      Reply to Comment
    35. Deïr Yassin

      David has already posted his comment on Luitsz’s twitter including ‘The Invention of the Jewish People’ on another file.
      Trying to discredit, eh ?
      Shlomo Sand who wrote this book is an Israeli Jew, who after a doctor degree at EHESS in Paris has taught at the University of Tel Aviv for two decades. Not really ‘The Protocol ..’-type …
      What’s so shoking of writing about the invention of the Jewish people ??? ALL people are social constructions. Only right-wing Zionists want us to believe that the Jews worldwide are the direct descendants of the Ancient Hebrews. Maybe David should leave the racialist theories of the 19th century and read modern stuff from the social sciences: Hobsbawn & Ranger: ‘The Invention of Tradition’, Benedict Anderson: ‘Imagined Communities’, Eric Gellner: ‘Nations and Nationalism Since 1780’ would be a good start for a beginner !

      Reply to Comment
    36. David, who is the academic you cling to? I can respect the vision of Shlomo Ben-Ami who states that: “I must from the very beginning say that the main difference between what they [the New Historians] say and my vision of things is not the facts. The facts, they are absolutely correct in mentioning the facts and putting the record straight.”
      His vision is that – sadly – nations are formed like that, with all the horror involved, so we should accept it. I don’t agree, but i can respect that vision. You unfortunately are using the over-used method of associating people who are critical of the (political) zionist movement, with anti-semitism or worse. That is not helping to get to a solution, it’s creating more problems.

      Reply to Comment
    37. David

      academics and journalists who carry the red party book of socialism are rarely a good source of academic information. Shlomo Sands pretty much got panned, and his narrative it that of the usual international far left ( like the left wing Palestinians in the 60s and 70s ). “Denying” the Jews is a dead end. In every way.

      Reply to Comment
    38. David

      I “cling” to know academics. Especially none who are so bias as Shlomo Sands. Yassin also recommends books by far lefties, see a pattern here? Just as you reject a crass Zionist narrative, so a reject the Marxist on almost anything.
      Your previous posts are clearly crossing the line in Holocaust analogy twin this with your misbelief of Zionism and Israel and we have a potent mix.
      It is living in Israel when you understand the nation and Judaism. Sitting in the Netherlands and reading the usual suspects is hardly an informed bases.

      Reply to Comment
    39. David, i agree of course that my vision of Israeal is coloured by not living there. But being inside a system is not a good way to understand the system. Maybe you should get out and look at it from an objective perspective. And to set you at rest: I believe in all Holocausts committed in human history.

      Reply to Comment
    40. David

      there you do it again. Subtly toying with the Holocaust. But nothing new here.
      Of interest is that you think to be more qualified in making decisions for Israeli’s and Jews ( hubris ), strangely, that is a problem for most Israeli’s. Having others tell you what’s best as they live in pampered northern Europe.
      But since you are not part of any larger problem, maybe you can read even more and become a consultant? There are many problems to be dealt with all across the globe.
      Please come! With more academic books.

      Reply to Comment
    41. David, I don’t make decisions. I see Israel as an anachronism. Colonialism doesn’t work well with iPhones and iPads: it shows the oppressors actions and no propaganda can change that. If you really think you are doing the right thing in supporting the occupation, you should come up with some rationale for yourself, instead of trying to put the blame on the critics.

      Reply to Comment
    42. David

      I am very happy. I need no rationalization. I would not wish be anywhere else in the world, as millions of others agree with me. But in here lies the crux, You can not understand. And dragging in that dead donkey “Colonialism”, my G-D, spare us the Marxism. But Marxism is cool as long as others produce the “goods” for you.
      “But being inside a system is not a good way to understand the system”.
      You just made a decision right there. You fail to see your doings.
      And I do not support the occupation, but for that nuance one needs to be present. Things are always more complex than the far left makes it out to be. Social engineering is over. It died around 1989, but is is still alive and kicking in places north of the Alps.

      Reply to Comment
    43. max

      I fail to understand how can anyone think that pressuring a democratically elected government via external forces could be helpful.
      I can’t understand Israelis that talk of democracy and call for the support of external powers.

      Reply to Comment
    44. max

      Israel is a poor excuse for a democratic state, but Max you are right, outside pressure will not work. The real aim is of course not Israel but public opinion in the rest of the world and embarrassment of the US.

      Reply to Comment
    45. directrob

      sorry, Max I typed your name instead of mine.

      Reply to Comment
    46. max

      What’s “the rest of the world”? Is it something you trust? For example, you’d replace your country’s legal system with the UN’s?
      I think you wouldn’t.
      So what you really mean to say is that the aim is to mobilize enough Israel haters, violent and non-violent facade, to create enough mass media hate and influence enough people who have no idea what the conflict is about and would at best view the issue as an interesting social experiment.
      You seem not honest enough to acknowledge that for you ‘the ends justify the means’

      Reply to Comment
    47. Deîr Yassin

      You don’t have to live in Israel to see there is a colonizer and a colonised, an oppressor and a oppressed, a thief and a bestolen. ‘Sitting in the Netherlands’ gives you a far better view of the scene of crime !

      Reply to Comment
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