Scaled sail? Jerusalem sources said Sunday that the second Gaza flotilla stands to be significantly smaller than originally planned.
According to Israel's assessments, only 10 vessels, carrying approximately 500 people, will take part in the Gaza-bound convoy, meant to set sail from Greece on Tuesday.
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Jerusalem believes that the reduced scope of the convoy can be attributed to the Foreign Ministry's intensive "anti-flotilla" campaign vis-à-vis its European counterparts.
Saturday saw the first vessel – a French ship – leave from Corsica carrying six people.
Meanwhile, the organizers of the Gaza flotilla said that the Greek authorities have barred the American ship the "Audacity of Hope" from taking part in the sail.
The passengers said the decision followed an anonymous complaint regarding the ship's mechanical state.
Working on one of the flotilla's ships (Photo: AFP)
Dror Fyler, an Israeli expat who is among the flotilla's organizers, confirmed that the American vessel, which is supposed to carry dozens of activists, has indeed been ordered to stay behind.
Passengers on the ship are asking Greek government officials to clarify whether the boat they are leasing is being blocked from leaving Greece because of the anonymous request or whether a political decision has been made by the Greek government in response to US and Israeli government pressure.
"Israel has said openly that it is pressuring governments to try to stop the flotilla, and clearly Greece is a key government since several of the boats plan to leave from Greece. It is unconscionable that Israel would take advantage of the economic hardship the Greek people are experiencing to try to stop our boat or the flotilla," passenger Medea Benajmin said.
"The Americans are worried that a ship carries 60-70 passengers, 30% of them Jewish, would be attacked. They don't know what they would do under such circumstances, so they are trying every trick in the book to stop us. But it won't do them any good – the ship will sail," Fyler added.
"We have no doubt that Israel and the US are in cahoots here, and that the Greek government, which is weak, is capitulating to pressure," he added. "In any case, this will not deter us. We'll find a way to fix the problems and be on our way."
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor dismissed the allegations suggesting Israel had something to do with Athens decision: "These are paranoid and crybaby allegations, which goes to demonstrate the organizers infantile viewpoint and just how far detached they are from reality."
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.
Aviel Magnezi contributed to this report
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