“The initiative is likely to give everyone a way out, including the flotilla organizers, and allow everyone to feel as though they got part of what they wanted,” said a source from the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.
The Greek Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Sunday afternoon that “certain groups of Greek and foreign citizens, without having received the necessary permission required according to the rules of safety, insisted to go through with the enterprise.”
These people, the Greek Foreign Ministry said, were attempting to break the Gaza blockade, despite the UN Secretary-General’s request.
European Union’s recommendations reflected in the conclusions of the European Council, the Quartet’s relevant appeal on Saturday and the Greek Foreign Ministry’s urging not to participate in the flotilla.
Klinkt goed, en Israel accepteert het voorstel, omdat zij niks heeft tegen het sturen van hulp aan Gaza. Maar, surprise surprise, de activisten hebben het voorstel afgewezen. Sommigen zijn zelfs in hongerstaking gegaan. Ook zouden zij nog broeden op manieren om het verbod uit te varen te omzeilen, en zijn er allerlei protesten aangekondigd. De weigering de hulp door Griekenland te laten bezorgen betekent dat de anderhalf miljoen Gazanen nu nog langer op de drieduizend brieven (die men al via de mail had ontvangen) moeten wachten. Ook de 49 verhuisdozen aan hulp (een halve vrachtwagen, dus ongeveer 1/50 van wat er via Israel dagelijks de Gazastrook binnenkomt) hebben blijkbaar geen haast. De activisten hebben meermaals openlijk toegegeven dat het ze niet om de humanitaire hulp gaat maar om het doorbreken van de blokkade, en zeiden dit nu ook ter motivering van de afwijzing van het Griekse aanbod. Internationaal recht, oorlogsrecht en maritiem recht gelden allemaal alleen zolang ze tegen Israel gebruikt kunnen worden. Zo niet, dan mag je ze negeren, aan je laars lappen en anderen oproepen hetzelfde te doen.
Activists reject Greek offer to send flotilla aid
Earlier on Sunday, activists on the flotilla ship The Audacity of Hope announced an open-ended hunger strike aimed at pressuring the US government to allow the ship to set sail to the Gaza Strip, organizers said.
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Eight of the ship’s passengers, including Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin and former CIA official Ray McGovern, were listed as those participating in the hunger strike.
Nevertheless, organizers said Sunday night that they were still looking into ways to circumvent a Greek government order preventing the ships from leaving Greece for the Gaza Strip.
“It is possible that this is under consideration but... that is not considered breaking the siege,” said Ewa Jasiewicz, one of the leaders of the Free Gaza Movement, which is in charge of the flotilla. “We want to break the siege and the flotilla is not about expanding the drip of humanitarian aid to Gaza.”
Israel responded that the Greek proposition to transport the flotilla’s humanitarian aid to Gaza under UN supervision reasonable “as long as cargo is checked for any chance of weapons smuggling,” Army Radio reported Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor as saying on Sunday.
Palmor said Israel has no issue with transporting equipment or goods in the appropriate channels.
Jasiewicz said flotilla organizers were still looking into ways to sail out of Greece, which on Friday issued an order banning the ships from sailing to Gaza, and later detained the captain of the US-flagged Audacity of Hope after he tried leaving port.
She hinted to the possibility that some of the ships would consider sailing despite the Greek order.
“The decision is to keep exploring options and to continue with the flotilla,” she said. “The boats that were sabotaged are being repaired and we still have possession of our boats and are exploring opportunities for sailing. We are confident.”
Additionally, the group said it would be holding a protest in front of the US embassy in Athens to publicly make their call to the US government.
“We call on officials at the US Embassy in Athens to publicly acknowledge our right to sail and to call on the Greek government to free our ship and its captain immediately,” American activist and would-be flotilla passenger Kathy Kelly said in the statement.
The statement added that US Deputy Consul-General Kate Brandeis in Athens told the activists they “had a right to sail to Gaza” in a June 24 meeting.
It lamented that the embassy has not assisted the captain of the boat, a US citizen, who remains in Greek custody.
Due to the chance that the ships might still set sail, the Israel Navy is continuing to maintain a state of readiness if it will need to stop the ships from reaching Gaza.
On Sunday, senior government officials expressed optimism with the setbacks that the flotilla was continuing to encounter, and pointed to the fact that some of the participants had already given up and left Greece to return to their home countries.
“We obviously still need to prepare for the possibility that flotillas will arrive,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said before the weekly cabinet meeting. “We are seeing positive developments regarding the flotilla. The governments of Greece, Cyprus and Turkey are actively stopping it. This is a result of extensive work by the Foreign Ministry and the prime minister.”
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Hamas called on Greece to reverse its decision and allow the ships to sail to Gaza.
Hamas’s foreign minister said it was regrettable that Greece had succumbed to international pressure.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to the report.