Having The Runs And Being Blocked At The Same Time

I’ve heard of having the runs at sea, but this is ridiculous.

flotilla shipThe Greek Coast Guard stopped a Canadian ship soon after it set sail for the Gaza Strip from Crete on Monday, the second time in three days Greek authorities have intercepted vessels headed for Gaza in defiance of the Athens government.

A spokeswoman at the Greek embassy in Tel Aviv said that Greek commandos boarded the boat, named the Tahrir, shortly after it set sail, just as they did Friday in stopping an American vessel that was taking part in the Gaza-bound flotilla. When the passengers on Monday refused to identify the captain of the ship, all 50 of them were taken into custody, she said.

On Friday, the Greek authorities published an order barring the departure of all ships flying either Greek or foreign flags to “the maritime area of Gaza.”

The Greek government explained that the move was taken because “certain groups of Greek and foreign citizens, without having received the necessary permission required according to the rules of safety, insisted to go through with the enterprise.”

Stopping the vessels was not “doing Israel’s dirty work,” as Dror Feiler, one of the flotilla’s organizers, said, but rather to avoid risking the loss of life, the spokeswoman said.

Feiler told Israel Radio on Monday that the problems the flotilla was having were “birth pangs.”

“There are a lot of countries who decided to do Israel’s dirty work,” he said. “There are other countries in the Mediterranean, like Tunisia and Egypt, and I think that if Israel is not careful, and looks for all kinds of subcontractors it will find some, but there are other countries who won’t want to do it.”

I find it interesting that Feiler claims other countries are doing Israel’s “dirty work,” since I see the flotilla “activists” as doing the “dirty work” of Hamas (on this topic, I recommend you read this piece by Christopher Hitchens)

Update: More on the activists’ shenanigans in this AFP report:

Thirty pro-Palestinian activists on a Canadian boat bound for Gaza that was stopped out of a Greek port Monday for breaking a ban, defied authorities by claiming they had all captained the ship.

Greek coastguards halted the Canadian vessel Tahrir about 10 minutes after it left port on the island of Crete Monday afternoon with some 40 people on board, organisers said.

“We have been boarded by about 15 armed special forces,” David Heap of the Canadian Boat to Gaza organization said by phone from the vessel.

“I’m being blocked by a man with a machine gun,” he said over the noise of shouting from passengers he said were being pushed around. “We are not using force back,” he added.

The Tahrir, which was carrying activists from Canada, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Turkey, was forced to turn back to Aghios Nikolaos port in Crete, as Heap and others shouted, “We have to go to Gaza. Let us pass!”

It had sailed without a captain in the hope of avoiding a severe legal repercussions.

Passenger Joseph Dube, a former Belgium senator with an expired captain’s licence, had sailed the ship and agreed to take full legal responsibility, according to the Tahrir’s spokesperson Huwaida Arraf.

When authorities boarded the boat and demanded to speak to the captain, some 30 passengers “claimed they were the captain,” she said.

“Everyone took part in manning the boat in one way or another — they all had a go at sailing it. The idea is that it will be difficult to arrest 30 people,” she said.

The Canadian boat was the second in the Freedom flotilla to attempt to set sail. The US Audacity of Hope boat had been thwarted Friday by authorities imposing a ban this week on all Gaza-bound ships leaving Greek ports.

Its American captain John Klusmer was arrested Friday after his ship was intercepted in Greek waters and is due to appear before a prosecutor on Tuesday in the port of Piraeus near Athens.

It is not yet clear what will happen to the passengers on the Tahrir.

“We left as a volunteer crew. It was legal for us to do so under international law, they had no right to stop us,” Heap said, adding: “Our destination is still Gaza.”

Earlier on Monday, French activists had been joined by their American counterparts to stage a “symbolic departure,” on the Louise Michel boat in defiance of the Greek ban.

“And we’re off!” shouted the passengers, cheering and waving as the captain of the Louise Michele unfurled the sails and wildly beeped the boat’s horn.

You can say that again.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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