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One of the ships Photo: AFP
One of the ships Photo: AFP
 
 

Gaza flotilla losing momentum

Greek authorities detain six ships supposed to partake in Strip-bound sail as Israel reiterates it will not allow flotilla of any size to reach Gaza

Ynet reporters
Published: 06.27.11, 08:06 / Israel News

Six ships which were slated to take part in the Gaza-bound flotilla are being detained by the Greek port authorities, Ynet learned Sunday night.

 

Senior officials in Jerusalem have confirmed the report, which followed a Sunday decision by Greece to stop the US vessel "Audacity of Hope" from participating in the sea-bound convoy.

 

 

While the organizers of the maritime convoy claim that more than 1,500 activists are set to take part in the initiative, it now appears that no more than seven ships, carrying 200-500 passengers, will participate in the flotilla.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated Sunday that Israel will not allow any ships to breach its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

 

Jerusalem believes that the dwindling extent of the sail can be largely attributed to the Foreign Ministry's intensive "anti-flotilla" campaign vis-à-vis its European counterparts.

 

"The Foreign Ministry is leading diplomatic efforts to delegitimize the flotilla in the eyes of the international community," Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said.

 

"The world is aware that such sails are unnecessary, that they are just provocations which violate international law."

 

Ayalon added that Israel is still gearing to meet whichever vessels do end up participating in the flotilla.

 

The Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, which focuses on legal action against terror groups, has also been working vis-à-vis the legal authorities in Athens in an attempt to stop the ships.

 

"The flotilla is linked to radical Islamist groups, making it an act against Israel, which is a nation friendly to Greece," Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who heads Shurat HaDin, said.

 

Shurat HaDin claims that it was their information that led Athens to detain some of the ships in orders to make sure they were not in violation of international law.

 

The organization further issued legal warnings to 36 Americans who planned to participate in the sail, saying that their action were in violation of the US Neutrality Act.

 

Organizers of the second flotilla have been under growing pressure to cancel the sail, denounced by the United States, the UN and the EU as unnecessary provocation.

 

The sail suffered a blow when Turkey-based IHH group, considered the driving force behind the Gaza flotilla announced its ship, the Mavi Marmara, will not be taking part in the Strip-bound sail.

 

Ronen Medzini, Aviel Magnezi and Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report  

 

 

 

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