French protest boat leaves Greece for Gaza

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 19:34

Paris: A small French pleasure craft with
eight protesters on board left Greek waters overnight and set
off for Gaza in an attempt to break an Israeli naval blockade,
organisers said on Tuesday.

The "Dignite al Karama" is so far the only boat in a
planned flotilla organised by pro-Palestinian activists to set
sail from Greece, after the authorities there blocked other
vessels from taking part in the protest.

The 19-metre (63-foot) motor cruiser is carrying, among
others, the former French far-left presidential candidate
Olivier Besancenot, Green Party Euro-MP Nicole Kiil-Nielsen
and trade unionist Annick Coupe.

They expect to be off Gaza within an day or two, the
group said.

"The boat was able to take on board fuel and food. It`s
heading towards Gaza," said Jean-Claude Lefort, spokesman for
"A French Boat for Gaza", the French wing of the international
maritime demonstration.

"We are going to send a delegation to the French foreign
ministry to ask for protection. Depending on how that goes, we
will advise on our progress," he added. Israel has warned it
will halt any vessels approaching Gaza.

Asked how the Dignite had managed to slip past the Greek
authorities, which have prevented the rest of the flotilla in
Athens` port Piraeus, Lefort said, "It wasn`t spotted. It
wasn`t in Piraeus, it was somewhere else."

Yesterday, Greek forces intercepted a Canadian boat
carrying more than 30 Gaza-bound activists from Canada,
Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Turkey and forced it to moor
in Crete.


First Published: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 19:34

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