Pro-Palestinian activists have clashed with Greek police in Athens where they had been protesting over Washington’s stance on a flotilla of ships preparing to sail for Gaza.
About 100 people had been demonstrating outside the US embassy. When some sat down in the road and blocked traffic, police pushed them away using riot shields.
The demonstrators are angry at comments by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton which they said appeared to support a possible Israeli attack.
American activist Medea Benjamin said “we are trying to put pressure on our government and say you are supposed to be protecting us, American citizens, and not the government of Israel, and you should be pressuring Israel to say ‘let this flotilla leave Greece and let this flotilla arrive in Gaza’.”
The US ship is one of nine hoping to leave this weekend carrying relief supplies for Gaza. Activists say the US ship has thousands of letters from Americans. They stress there are no plans to enter Israeli waters. Hillary Clinton had suggested that if they did, Israel would have the right to defend itself. The boat has reportedly been stopped at sea by Greek coastguards.
The Israeli government says the blockade it has imposed on Gaza is to stop arms from being imported and used against Israel.
This week Irish activists accused Israel of sabotaging their boat while it was docked in Turkey to stop it from joining the convoy.
The challenge to the blockade comes a year after Israeli marines stormed a boat in another flotilla, killing nine Turkish activists.