The Daily Star Lebanon
Defiant Gaza flotilla activists vow to set sail to deliver aid
July 01, 2011 01:37 AM
By Ella Ide
Agence France Presse
ATHENS: Defiant pro-Palestinian activists vowed Thursday to overcome
alleged sabotage and a bureaucratic nightmare to bring aid to Gaza, in
breach of Israel’s sea blockade.
“Let me assure you all: we will sail, whether we have official
clearance or not,” coordinator Claude Leostic said in Athens, where a
multi-national flotilla has been stuck for days.
Demonstrations on behalf of the flotilla are planned for Friday in the
capital, the scene of fierce riots this week by Greeks protesting
against a fresh austerity package.
Anger mounted among the hundreds of volunteers gathered from 22
countries after the Irish Ship to Gaza (ISG) campaign said Israel was
“the chief suspect” in the incident, which followed an similar incident
involving a Greek boat.
“Mossad’s behind this for sure,” said one passenger who asked not to
Activists on the U.S. boat “Audacity of Hope” refused to comment when
asked if they would defy Greece and set sail without authorization as
early as Friday.
Organizers said an Israeli law firm had filed a claim accusing the
U.S. boat of being unseaworthy, a claim they vehemently deny.
“We strongly suspect that Israel is placing great economic pressures
on Greece behind the scenes,” said Ann Wright, a retired U.S. colonel
and former diplomat, who cited the countries’ strong trading links.
The flotilla’s calls for Greece to let them travel against Israel’s
wishes were overshadowed Thursday by news that President Karolos
Papoulias will travel to the Jewish state in July to strengthen
diplomatic and economic ties.
Technicians in the port of Piraeus near Athens were racing to fix its
propeller after a delay that got worse by Greece’s general strike.
Passengers are hoping to carry 3,000 letters of support for the people
of Gaza and were cheered Thursday when activists from several Arab
countries announced that they will be joining the flotilla.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily
Star on July 01, 2011, on page 8.