Greece - Palestinian Territories - Israel - 
Article published the Tuesday 05 July 2011 - Latest update : Tuesday 05 July 2011

US Gaza flotilla captain freed, French boat on its way

Activists display a banner on one of the boats in Greece
Reuters/Marko Djurica

By RFI

A Greek court has freed the American captain of a boat which is part of a flotilla aiming to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza after his arrest Saturday. A small French boat has managed to set sail from Corsica.

All charges were dropped against the Audacity of Hope’s captain, John Klusmire, who had tried to set sail from a port near Piraeus last week and was arrested on Saturday on charges of setting sail without permission and endangering passengers.

The acquittal raises hopes that Greece's ban on the ships aiming to reach Gaza will be lifted, US flotilla activist Adam Shapiro told RFI from Athens. Public pressure on the authorities to let the flotilla leave is growing, he said.

The Dignité al Karama, a 19-metre motor cruiser with eight passengers on board, is expected to “off Gaza within a day or two”, Jean-Claude Lefort of the French Boat to Gaza campaign.

It is reported to have set sail from the French Mediterranean island of Corsica.

An Israeli drone killed two Palestinians and wounded another in the central Gaza Strip on Tuesday, Palestinian medics said.

Spanish activists staged a “symbolic” occupation of rooms at their country’s embassy in Athens on Tuesday after meeting their ambassador. They want their government to push Greece to let the flotilla leave.

The Greek authorities say they have banned the flotilla's departure for the "safety" of the activists on board, but Palestinian supporters accuse them of merely extending Israel's blockade.

The Canadian Tahrir, which was carrying activists from Canada, Belgium, Italy,
Switzerland and Turkey, was stopped minutes after it left port on the island of Crete Monday. Armed special forces boarded and forced it to return to port, according to passengers.

tags: Boat - Corsica - Flotilla - France - Gaza - Greece - Israel - Palestine - Palestinian territories - United States
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