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A Tale of Two Blockades on Gaza: Greece and Israel

Greece rams a Canadian flotilla boat. Passengers said they were roughed up. Reaction to similar claims against Israel was furious. Now? A whimper.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 7/6/2011, 5:23 PM / Last Update: 7/6/2011, 8:13 PM

Courtesy Greecereporter.com

The Greek Coast Guard rammed a Canadian flotilla boat, and passengers said they were roughed up by Greek Coast Guard personnel, who were enforcing Greece's policy of not allowing ships to sail to Hamas-controlled Gaza from its ports.

Reaction to similar actions by Israel in the past, and to the Israeli maritime embargo on Gaza, has traditionally been furious, but barely a whimper has been heard over Greek actions.

The Greek Coast Guard’s ramming the Canadian “Tahrir” forced it back to shore and ran it into a concrete pier, according to activists quoted by the Canadian Press. The boat was stopped 15 minutes after it tried to break the Greek blockade.

Much like Israeli Navy actions against the first Free Gaza flotillas two years ago, Greek Coast Guard officers boarded the ship and took command.

One of the activists claimed that the officers roughed up some of the passengers. The activists also demanded that Greece repair the damage to the boat, whose fuel tank erupted after the 75-foot boat rammed the pier.

Israel's diplomatic offensive to stop the flotilla to Gaza has won support from most Western countries, and mainstream media now generally treat the flotilla activists less seriously than they did the past two years.

After the Free Gaza flotillas began in 2009, activists attracted a media circus around Israel navy officers stopping the passengers, who often were widely-known European and American artists and left-wing activists who successfully represented themselves of innocent lovers of peace being bullied by the ”Zionist entity.”

After the Candian boat was rammed, the activists played the part of heroes and reported, "Two brave souls from among our number set out in kayaks right in front of the coast guard boat, finally grabbing on to the boat itself... We had a good race out to the sea, it was very exciting. We dropped nets down each side to protect against being knocked overboard and installed doors either side of the wheelhouse, to slow down access for the coast guard, who were heavily armed but actually fairly gentle. I would call them 'gentle pirates' because they boarded our boat illegally. "

Last May 31, Israeli Navy commandos clashed with activists from the terror--linked IHH organization. After initial condemnation of Israel, evidence showed that the activists were not carrying any humanitarian aid and that their purpose was to force a confrontation. Their success cost them nine people, who were killed by the commandos defending themselves against an initial brutal attack when they boarded the Mavi Mamara ship.

Israel has produced mountains of evidence the past several weeks to justify the maritime embargo and has emphasized that hundreds of tons of goods, merchandise and material are shipped to Gaza every day via overland crossings.

The maritime embargo is designed to keep Hamas from smuggling more advanced weapons, explosives and terrorists.

The result has been lack of criticism, if not support, of Israel as well as no condemnation of Greece.