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Irish ship's mission to Gaza hit by Greek delay

EFFORTS by Irish pro-Palestinian activists to challenge Israel's blockade of Gaza have been hindered after Greece prevented several ships from leaving port to join a convoy bound for the Palestinian territory.

The Irish ship MV Saoirse, with 20 activists on board, last night remained in port as it waited to link up with other vessels in the Gaza convoy.

But Greek authorities delayed the departure of five or six boats, according to the Israeli news site Ynet, as Israel lobbied governments to warn their citizens against joining the flotilla.


About 350 activists had planned to sail for Gaza in an effort to challenge Israel's land and sea blockade, which they say is illegal and inhumane.

But those numbers could now be much smaller if the ships, some of which are carrying humanitarian supplies, are prevented from leaving Greece.

Last night a spokesman for the activists said MV Saoirse last night remained in port in the Mediterranean but refused to say if the vessel was in Greek waters or not.

Last May Israel mounted a deadly assault on a Gaza-bound flotilla in international waters that left nine Turkish activists dead. The Israelis later bowed to international pressure to ease the conditions of its Gaza blockade.

Irish Independent