Pro-Palestinian activists aboard a flotilla, due to set sail for Gaza, claim they are being prevented from leaving by Greek coast guards.
Two of the vessels that will make up their ten-boat humanitarian fleet have been intercepted off the island of Crete. The group has made two attempts to leave in the last few days but abandoned the effort after their ships were blocked by officials. The activists say they are determined to go ahead with the journey.
Greek officials say they have imposed the ban due to fears for the safety of the group.
Last year nine Turkish activists were killed when Israeli special forces stormed a boat whose crew say they were taking humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Israel has imposed a naval blockade of Gaza, claiming it is trying to stop weapons being smuggled to Palestinian militants who fire rockets from Gaza into Israel.
The Israeli government has said that despite last year’s fatal intervention, which was widely condemned by much of the international community, it will again try to stop any boat reaching Gaza. It has proposed to the activists that they deliver the aid to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
A spokesperson for the Gaza flotilla has accused the Greeks of doing the Israeli coastguards’ job for them. Nahila Chahal spoke to Euronews from Paris.
“We didn’t anticipate that the Greeks would go as far as stopping the flotilla from leaving the Greek port and would impound the ships. I would say this behaviour on the part of the Greeks has shocked us.
On the other hand there are no internal problems among the crew of the flotilla; our only problem is with the Greek coastguards who are acting as if they are the Israeli coastguard in this instance.
“I wouldn’t say that our objective was to completely break the siege of Gaza, our objective was to raise international awareness, from Ban Ki-moon to the Quartet to President Obama, and I think that we have achieved our aim.”