One yacht from a planned ten-ship aid flotilla carrying activists hoping to run the Israeli blockade on Gaza has left Greece. Israel is determined to prevent this and other boats from reaching their intended destination.A French yacht carrying pro-Palestinian activists has left a Greek island in a bid to breach Israel's blockade of Gaza. In a statement, Free Gaza, one of the organizers of the action, said the Dignite/Al Karma left the Greek island of Kastellorizo at 8.30 pm local time on Saturday. It is carrying 10 activists, three journalists and three crew members.
Six of the activists are French, including a French Communist Party member. They have been joined by a Tunisian, a Greek, a Swede and a Canadian. One of the journalists works for Israel's Haaretz daily, and the other two for al-Jazeera. Larger flotilla planned Free Gaza and other pro-Palestinian groups had planned to send some ten ships with hundreds of activists to Gaza. However, Greece prevented the ships from sailing from its ports, citing the "safety" of the activists on board. Last year, nine Turkish activists in a similar aid flotilla to Gaza were killed in a raid by Israeli commandos.
Organizers said the Dignite/Al Karama was allowed to sail from Kastellorizo because the island is sympathetic with Gaza, as many of its population took refuge there during World War II. The rest of the ships in the planned flotilla, dubbed Freedom Flotilla II, remain detained in Greek ports. "More to come" The organizers said, however, that the yacht's trip is not a "mini-version of Freedom Flotilla II," but a first wave to be followed by others. Greece offered to forward the aid to Gaza through its own resources, but said the activists had not taken up the proposal. Israel said it would do all it can to prevent ships from the flotilla from reaching Gaza. The region has been under a blockade since 2006 after militants there seized an Israeli soldier who is still being held at a secret location.