French boat to reach Gaza: Organisers

2011-07-18 15:46

Jerusalem - A French yacht carrying pro-Palestinian activists which set sail from a Greek island at the weekend is expected to reach the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, organisers said.

The Dignite Al Karama left the Greek island of Kastellorizo late on Saturday following a troubled stay in Greece after Athens imposed a ban on the departure of any ships planning to join an international aid flotilla heading for Gaza.

The flotilla had hoped to break an Israeli naval blockade on the Palestinian territory, despite warnings from the Jewish state.

"The boat should be off the Gaza coast on Tuesday afternoon," spokesperson Maxime Guimberteau said by phone from Paris on Monday.

"It is travelling slowly, mainly to conserve fuel," he said.

But Israel on Monday vowed to block any attempt to breach its naval blockade on Gaza, which it insists is an entirely legal measure.

Ban for activists' safety

"If this boat is on its way to Gaza, which is a breach of international maritime law, and tries a provocative act - yes, we shall intercept it," deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon told reporters in Jerusalem.

"But I assure you we shall try our best to make those on board very comfortable."

On board are 16 people, including three crew members and three journalists, among them Amira Hass, a veteran columnist with the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The crew and seven of the passengers are French nationals, while another three are representing boats which had been due to join the flotilla but were blocked from leaving Greece.

Officials in Athens say they imposed the ban for the "safety" of the activists on board in the wake of last year's bloody showdown when Israeli commandos raided a six-ship flotilla in a confrontation that left nine Turkish activists dead.

"This 'little' boat symbolises the determination of the international solidarity movement to break the blockade on Gaza and express its support for the 1.6 million Palestinians imprisoned there since 2007," a statement from the boat said.

Israel unmoved

"The fact that the Dignite Al Karama is at sea is a setback for the Israeli government which by force or by pressure is trying to perpetuate an illegal and criminal blockade and to silence civil society movements around the world," it said.

The French-flagged vessel had managed to escape the clutches of the Greek coastguard on July 5, but two days later, it was blocked by the authorities in Crete when it stopped to refuel.

The ship managed to sail to Kastellorizo, which lies just off the coast of southwestern Turkey, on Thursday.

The boat and its activists were well received on the island, which has a population of more than 400 people, some of whom had fled their homes during the fighting in World War II and found temporary refuge in Gaza, organisers said.

The 10-ship Freedom Flotilla had been due to sail from Greece at the end of June but was hit by a wave of red tape and technical faults which organisers blamed on Israel.

Israel has vowed to prevent any attempt to reach Gaza by sea in defiance of its naval blockade which was first imposed in 2006 after militants there snatched an Israeli soldier who is still being held.

It was tightened a year later when the Islamist Hamas movement forcibly took over the coastal territory.

  • Arno Young - 2011-07-18 23:02

    'But Israel on Monday vowed to block any attempt to breach its naval blockade on Gaza, which it insists is an entirely legal measure.' He proceeds to quote Danny Ayalon: "If this boat is on its way to Gaza, which is a breach of international maritime law, and tries a provocative act - yes, we shall intercept it," Perhaps the writer can explain why he infers that Israels interpretation of the maritime law is incorrect. And if he can not he should not be allowed to incite and sway opinion in such an irresponsible manner from a mouthpiece such as news24; one can only wonder what the objective is.

  • mish82 - 2011-07-19 06:57

    The Quran was revealed more than 1400 years ago and it's still applicable to this very day and age... "The Jews say: "The fire shall not touch us except for a few days." Ask them: "Have you obtained such a promise from God which He would not break ? Or do you assert against God what you do not know?"[80] Yea! Those who commit evil and become encircled in sin are the inmates of Hellfire; they shall live there for ever.[81] As for those who believe and do good deeds, they will be the residents of Paradise and live there forever."[82] 2:[80-82] "Also remember another covenant which We took from you: That you shall not shed blood among yourselves and you shall not expel your own people from your homes; you confirmed it and you are witness to it.[84] Yet there you are, killing your own people, expelling a group amongst you from their homes, backing each other with sin and aggression; and if they come to you as captives, you trade them for ransoms whereas their expulsion was unlawful for you to begin with. Do you believe in a part of your Holy Book and reject the rest? So what other punishment do such people among you, who behave like this, deserve, than disgrace in this world and to be driven to grievous punishment on the Day of Judgment? God is not unaware of what you do.[85] Such are the people who trade the life of this world at the expense of the Hereafter; so neither their punishment shall be lightened nor shall they be helped."[86] 2:[84-86]

  • WATCHMAN - 2011-07-19 18:37

    Psalm 83:1-18 A Song or Psalm of Asaph. Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. (2) For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. (3) They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. (4) They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. (5) For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: (6) The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; (7) Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; (8) Assur also is joined with them: they have helped the children of Lot. Selah. (9) Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison:

  • WATCHMAN - 2011-07-19 18:38

    Psalm 83 cont.... (10) Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth. (11) Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: (12) Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession. (13) O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. (14) As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; (15) So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. (16) Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD. (17) Let them be confounded and troubled forever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: (18) That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.

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