Athens, July 7 – Pro-Palestinian campaigners said a second boat would try to leave Greek waters to challenge Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza Wednesday, joining a French yacht that left a day earlier.
The “Juliano”, flying a Sierra Leonean flag and hired by Greek, Norwegian and Swedish activists, would try and leave the port of Perama, near Athens, Maria Norden, a Social Democrat deputy from Sweden, told AFP. “All our on-board papers are in order, we are going to try to leave today,” she said by phone. “We are waiting clearance from the Greek authorities.”
Greek officials turned back the boat on Tuesday afternoon under the terms of a ban imposed on any vessel bound for Gaza, she said.
The MV Dignite/Al Karama, which left Greek waters early on Tuesday, is heading slowly towards Gaza, a spokesman for the French Boat to Gaza campaign told AFP.
Meanwhile, squads of Israeli police were deployed at Tel Aviv airport on Wednesday, anticipating the arrival of hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists, a police spokesman said.
“There are a hundred police from different units who are on standby and will make sure there won’t be any incidents at the airport,” Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.
“They’re on standby to deal with the possibility of activists and extremists arriving from overseas.”
Pro-Palestinian activists from the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign have said they plan to arrive in their hundreds at Ben Gurion airport on Friday to protest against Israeli restrictions on the Palestinians’ freedom of movement, and that of their international supporters.
“Nearly 600 women, men and children, among whom more than 350 French citizens, will fly to the West Bank next Friday, 8 July, in answer to a call from 15 West Bank Palestinian civil society organizations,” the group said on its website.
“The aim is to show that, if our governments do not seem to be interested in the fate of these people who have been under occupation for far too long, there are men and women from all countries, who are ready to bring them moral support, using a week of their holidays to go and meet them.