Audacity of Hope to PNN: The Greek Navy is Holding Our Ship Near Athens

 

PNN | 02.07.11 – 12:59

Ghassan Bannoura – PNN Exclusive – Jane Hirschmann, one of the American boat Audacity of Hope organizers, taking part on Freedom Flotilla Two to Gaza told PNN on Saturday that the Greek Navy have arrested the Captain of the ship and are holding the boat in a naval base outside Athens.

“The Boat was brought back to a naval security area, they are (the passengers) with the boat, the captain was charged, this morning he was taken off and he is currently with his lawyer, he has been officially arrested however he is in custody and will be going to court on Monday” Hirschmann told PNN from Athens.

On board the Audacity of Hope there are 36 to 40 passengers and about 10 media personal from all walks of life. Audacity of Hope is part of the International Freedom Flotilla Two that is planning to set sail to the Gaza Strip to break the four year long siege Israel is imposing on the 1.5 million Palestinians living there.

Yesterday Audacity of Hope and the Canadian flagged ship taking part in the Freedom flotilla set sail to Gaza but were stopped before reaching international waters. The Greek government announced that it decided to make it illegal for Greek or internationally flagged ships to leave Greece to the Maritime area of Gaza, navy forces handed out the statement to activists on board Audacity of Hope. (Read the statement here)

“People must understand that what is really illegal is not what is happening to us but the siege of Gaza; all of this going out here just shows how Israel had out sourced and extended it to reach the shores of Greece.” Hirschmann continued to say “they are stopping us because they don’t want us to see the crime and get to the crime scene which is in Gaza where the United States and Israel have really occupied Gaza and turned into an open air prison.”

Hirschmann said that all organizers of the boats will meet on Saturday to discuss further actions, on their website. The Audacity of Hope organizers issued a call to people to protest in front of Greek embassies and call them to make complaints.

 

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The Audacity of Hope

 

The US two weeks ago issued a statement saying it was illegal for Americans to be part of the Freedom Flotilla 2, while the Israeli government has asked Greece not to allow boats to leave the country. Last week an Israeli group tried to stop Audacity of Hope by filing a court case in Greece claiming that the boat is not fit for sail, this was proven to be untrue. This week two boats were sabotaged as they were docked in port.

In an earlier interview with PNN on Friday Hirschmann said that the boats are safer in sea than at the Athens port. “We are much safer in sea as our boats are being attacked and sabotaged”  Hirschmann explained.

While docked two boats of the Freedom flotilla were sabotaged by unknown divers. According to organizers Israel on Wednesday had sabotaged the Irish ship, “Saoirse”, which was docked in Turkey’s territorial waters by cutting a piece out of the propeller shaft.

“They put divers under the boat who cut a piece out of the propeller shaft. That means that the damage would have happened gradually and what would have happened eventually is that the propeller would have come up through the bottom of the boat, caused a flood in the engine room and would have caused the boat to sink,” Fintan Lane the coordinator of the Irish Ship to Gaza organization told the Irish Times From the Turkish port of Gocek.

On Tuesday activists with the Greek-Swedish boat to Gaza reported that their ship, “Juliano” had been sabotaged as well.

Last month the Israeli navy conducted a number of training exercises to counter the Free Gaza Flotilla Two to avoid, as commanders called them, last year mistakes. At the same time Israeli politicians have conducted a large scale PR campaign against the flotilla in Europe and the USA.

In May 31st 2010 an Israeli navy attack on the freedom flotilla left 9 Turkish aid workers killed and as many as 54 injured.

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