Greece Bans Departure of Ships Trying to Break Blockade of Gaza

Greece banned ships intending to travel to the Gaza Strip from leaving Greek ports, the government said.

The coast guard has been ordered to take “all appropriate measures” to enforce the decision, the citizen protection ministry said in a statement released in Athens today. “Furthermore, the broader maritime area of the eastern Mediterranean will be continuously monitored by electronic means for tracking, where applicable, the movements of the ships allegedly participating in such campaign.”

A vessel carrying several dozen American protesters that left port without permission was ordered to return, the Associated Press reported.

The ships are part of a flotilla aimed at breaking Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. The organizers have said they will carry aid. An Irish boat yesterday sustained damage off Turkey’s coast that organizers attributed to sabotage. Israel denied any involvement.

Israel said it won’t allow the flotilla to reach the Hamas- controlled Gaza Strip. A previous Gaza flotilla’s attempt ended in violence in which nine Turks were killed on May 31 last year.

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