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Failed Flotilla: Only 2 Ships Leave for Gaza

Flotilla fizzles? Out of ten ships that wanted to make their way to Gaza, only two have so far been able to leave Greek ports.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/7/2011, 3:02 AM / Last Update: 7/7/2011, 4:08 AM

IDF

The Freedom Flotilla 2 continued to fizzle on Wednesday, as only two ships have so far been able to leave the Greek port on their way to Gaza.

AFP reported that the MV Dignite/Al Karama, a French yacht with 12 people on board, was able to leave Greek waters early on Tuesday and was heading slowly towards Gaza.

A spokesman for the French Boat to Gaza campaign told AFP Wednesday the group had not yet given up hope that they would be joined by other ships from the flotilla.

Later on Wednesday it was reported that the MV Juliano had also been able to leave Greek waters and make its way towards Gaza.

The Juliano reportedly has 25 activists on board, among them Dror Feiler, a radical leftist and former Israeli who is one of the main organizers of this year’s flotilla. Feiler confirmed in an interview with Army Radio on Wednesday that the Juliano had indeed set sail, and said he was happy about this fact.

“We are very glad we got all the necessary licenses and approvals to be able to set sail,” he said. “We hope that Israel will understand that there is no danger in us coming into Gaza. On the contrary - if people in Gaza live a normal life, it will only be good for Israel.”

Voice of Israel radio, however, had reported that despite the fact that the Greek Coast Guard had allowed the Juliano to leave the port of Piraeus, the ship was only allowed to leave on condition that it does not sail to Gaza.

Flotilla activists were quoted by Voice of Israel as having said that the ship will make its way to another port in Greece, where its passengers are expected to hold a media event with a local mayor. The activists on board the Juliano told the station that the Greek Coast Guard was monitoring their movements remotely.

AFP reported that earlier in the day, the MV Juliano had failed to leave for the second day in a row, after the Greek Coast Guard once again thwarted their plans to leave.

Yet despite the fact that two ships have been allowed to set sail, the flotilla continues to be considered a failure as most of the ten ships that had been scheduled to join the convoy are stuck at ports in Greece.

Greek authorities have reportedly rammed one boat in an attempt to stop it from sailing and roughed up passengers on another.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, organizers behind the US ‘Audacity of Hope’ ship announced they were throwing in the towel and would not be going to Gaza.

“The Greek government’s willingness to serve as the enforcer of Israeli’s naval blockade of Gaza made it impossible for this journey to happen,” the organizers said on their website.

The ‘Audacity of Hope’ was stopped by the Greek Coast Guard when it tried to leave port without permission on Friday. Its captain was arrested after he refused to return to port.

On Monday, a Canadian ship, the Tahrir, was blocked from leaving its port and attempting to sail to Gaza. The Tahrir managed to sail about five kilometers before being caught.