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.

Read more on:    gaza  |  greece  |  israel  |  gaza ship raid

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia E7

Your mobile office Real-time emails with Mail for Exchange. Easy access to...

From R3499.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.