The Greek coastguard intercepted a Canadian ship on Monday, which was part of the Gaza `peace flotilla.`
The ship which was claiming to be carrying medicine and pro-Palestinian activists had set sail from a port in Crete to Gaza, defying a ban by the Athens government. The 50 strong crew of the boat named “Tahrir” are said to be mainly of Canadian origin.
Meanwhile Greek authorities continue to keep other boats bottled up in a Piraeus harbour, despite one ship trying to make a run for it on Friday.
Earlier engines were symbolically revved and sails set, but the harbour police were quick to jump aboard to see what was going on.
Activists say they want to break a blockade of Gaza and get humanitarian aid to Palestinians who need it. Israel imposed the blockade because it says weapons are being smuggled into Gaza to be used by militants to attack Israeli soil.
“We have discovered, all of a sudden, that the blockade is not just in Palestine but also in Europe since we are blocked here, completely, without any permission to leave,” said skipper and activist Alain Connan.
The Greeks have offered to take all the flotilla supplies and deliver them to Gaza themselves, but the offer has been turned down.
“We see Greece today as a victim of Israeli blackmail. We think Israel is blackmailing Greece by using its economic difficulties to block this flotilla, and we hope they’ll change their minds and allow us to sail,” said Palestinian Member of Parliament Mustafa Bargouti.
The skipper and crew of the “Louise Michel” say they are ready to try and slip out of harbour. But at the moment they and nine other vessels remain where they are.
The latest challenge to the blockade comes a year after Israeli marines stormed a boat in another flotilla, killing nine Turkish activists.