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December 7, 2021

French boat bound for Gaza held in Greece

ATHENS – A French boat trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza is “stuck” in Greece, detained along with its crew by Greek authorities, a spokesman for the French crew said Thursday, according to the CNN. The ship and crew were stopped when they arrived in Crete to refuel, said Maxime Gimberteau of “A Boat for Gaza.”

Greek authorities confirmed that the boat, Dignite Al Karama, had been docked at the port of Sitia in Crete since early Thursday. They said it would not be given permission to depart for Gaza, and that it was not clear what would happen next.

“Authorities are following the necessary legal procedures,” including “checking the identities of the passengers” and “the ship’s documents,” said Greek coast guard head of press Elias Sambatakakis. Sambatakakis said there had been “full co-operation between the authorities and those on board.” “It is not yet clear what will happen once procedures are completed,” he said. “Obviously if the ship asks for permission to go to Gaza, this will be declined.”

The French yacht had been the last boat in international waters of a flotilla of 10 ships trying to get to Gaza. Greek authorities have been stopping ships, including the American boat The Audacity of Hope, from leaving Greek waters for Gaza.

The flotilla, carrying about 350 passengers, was supposed to be taking tens of thousands of dollars of medicines, food, gifts and building materials to Gaza, Jerusalem Post reported. Israeli government officials said that the navy was under orders to stop any vessel that tried to break the blockade. They also said that the navy was prepared for a wide range of scenarios, including the possibility that the passengers on the ship plan to resist the navy’s takeover of the vessel.

Israel insists on controlling access to Gaza because it says it has to keep weapons out of the hands of Palestinian militants who would use them to attack Israelis. Gaza is run by Hamas, which has carried out dozens of terrorist attacks and is listed by the United States as a terrorist organization. Israel emphasizes that it delivers large amounts of aid to Gaza. The country mounted a diplomatic offensive to try to stop the flotilla from setting sail.

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