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July 2, 2011

Canadian ship in Gaza flotilla halted

POLITICS - A Canadian ship carrying aid to the Gaza Strip has been halted and uis under 24-hour surveillance in an effort to prevent it from delivering aid Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.

After months of remaining secret, the location of the Canadian ship participating in Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza was found off the coast of the Greek seaside town of Agio Nikolaos. Greek authorities boarded the ship and tried to seize the ship’s transit log, which is needed to sail into the coastal waters of Israel.

Flotilla organizers say acts of sabotage against other two ships in the flotilla of aid ships happened earlier this week.

The Greek government, under pressure from Israel (and probably hoping for handouts since its under enormous financial strain right now), has blocked the Canadian boat and other ships from setting out to try and sneak past the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza and to deliver humanitarian aid to poor Palestinians who over the past decades have basically become prisoners inside their own country.

“We are being Gaza-fied,” says Lyn Adamson, 59, a lifelong Toronto activist and chair of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. “What we’re doing is perfectly legal and we haven’t given up,” says Adamson, one of 22 Canadians aboard the Canadian boat Tahrir (Arabic for “Liberation”). The ship is named after the square in Cairo where Egyptians gathered and toppled Hosni Mubarak early in 2011.

“It’s clearly coming from on high,” said Adamson. “It’s really a shame that this Greek government would be pressured, as it has been, into stopping these boats. Why is Israel afraid of our aid?”

Israel claims its sea blockade stops weapons from reaching Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, but it also stops food shipments, medical supplies and basically anything else you can think of. The conditions in the Gaza Strip are deplorable, similar to Jewish ghettos in Germany during WWII.

In 2010 nine activists on a Turkish boat died when the Israeli military attacked a similar flotilla.

On Friday night 36 delegates on the Canadian boat (including activists from Belgium, Denmark, Australia and Turkey) were sleeping aboard the Tahrir. 11 journalists from seven countries are also present on the ship. The activists come from all over, all ages and all religious/atheist backgrounds. The average age of people on the ship is 45. 33% of them are grandparents.

Meanwhile...

An American ship named “The Audacity of Hope” (after a book written by President Barack Obama) made a run for open water Friday. The Greek coast guard intercepted it after half an hour.

So for now the ships sit in legal limbo, unable to leave Greek waters and head towards Israel's territorial waters. The food and medical supplies aboard just sit and wait.

About Gaza

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