Stranded Flotilla Activists Still Hopeful

Pro-Palestinian activists have their sights set on sailing to Gaza, despite Greek authorities blocking them.

Greece says its ban on all Gaza-bound ships leaving port was to protect pro-Palestinian activists (Reuters)
Most of the nine vessels that pro-Palestinian activists planned to sail on as part of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in defiance of an Israeli blockade remain stranded in Greece ports, after Greek authorities forbade them from embarking on the journey.

Two vessels have been sabotaged and are currently unable to sail, while most of the others remain under the watchful eye of Greek coastguard or military personnel.

Despite their growing frustration and diminishing morale, some activists are hopeful that their Gaza Flotilla II would finally be able to make the journey and break Israel’s siege on the Palestinian territory.

‘Let us sail’

Members of the Dutch-Italian boat issued an open letter to the Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou on Sunday, expressing outrage over his “government’s decision to close the ports of Greece to our humanitarian initiative, even by force if needed”.

The letter demanded that they be allowed to sail and said, “It is totally incomprehensible to us and fills us with just wrath that the Greek government closes the ports to our ships…

“You and your government acting as an ally of Israel in the Palestinian question means you also seem to have forgotten the struggle against the military dictatorship in your own country.”

The Greek government, reiterating that it is committed to improving the humanitariation situation in Gaza, has offered to transport the aid in its own ships.

“Greece’s stance regarding the need to lift the Gaza blockade and to improve the humanitarian conditions in the area is known and remains unchanged,” the Greek foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ban on the departure of vessels was because they were “concerned primarily with the protection and safety of human life.”

Read the rest of the story at Al Jazeera English