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Greek activists accuse Israel of piracy

22 October 2012 / 19:10:11  GRReporter
2365 reads

Victoria Mindova

The arrest of activists of the "A ship for Gaza" mission was pure piracy, SYRIZA’s deputy Vassilis Diamatopoulos told GRReporter. He was a board member of the Finnish ship "Estele," which, in an attempt to reach the problem area of ​​the Gaza Strip in order to deliver humanitarian aid to the residents of the area, was stopped by Israeli authorities at the end of last week. According to the left deputy, the actions of Israeli forces were in violation of international rules, because the arrests were carried out in international waters, where the border authorities had no jurisdiction.

"They attacked us in international waters in an area that the Israelis have illegally identified as a maritime boundary, which exceeds the distance of 12 miles from the shore. They gave us only one warning to change the course to the port of Ashdod. We refused to do it," Diamatopoulos said. He claims that the relations between the Greek and Arab nations, including the Palestine people, are very strong, almost brotherly.

The deputy said he could not be indifferent to the attitude of Israelis toward the Palestinians and therefore, he accepted the offer to take part in the mission. "The humanitarian problem in Gaza cannot leave anyone indifferent, not to speak of a left deputy. So, when the proposal from the union of the "A ship for Gaza" initiative came, I could not refuse it. It was certain that I would take part in the mission with all the activists who it had gathered."

The presence of deputies from other countries and members of the European Parliament had also played a role in deciding for the participation in the controversial mission.

According to the deputy, the purpose of the mission was the provision of some basic construction materials such as cement for the construction and maintenance of buildings from the volunteers to the inhabitants of the occupied areas. In addition, other aids such as foodstuffs, medicines and even footballs were transported.

After the Israeli commandos took control of the ship, activists on board were searched and taken to the port of Ashdod. "They took our personal phones, camcorders, cameras. Some activists found afterwards that they were short of cash," the deputy said.

The way the Israeli administration considered the entering of the "Estele" ship in the area of Gaza affected Diamatopoulos and his associates the most. "They took us in the foreign ministry’s department dealing with illegal immigration. We were detained for political reasons, but they wanted to reduce the problem by presenting us as people, who had illegally entered the country, as ordinary immigrants."

The Greek deputies and the three supporters of SYRIZA, who took part in the campaign, have made a call for considering their case as a political act of protest. The Israeli authorities, in turn, consider the campaigns like that of “A ship for Gaza" a violation of territorial waters by unarmed foreigners who attempt to illegally enter the country. According to the available information, the four tons of aid will reach Gaza by road from the port where the Finnish ship has been detained.

When asked, "Are you ready to get involved again in a similar mission to the Gaza Strip, although your first attempt was not a success," Vassilis Diamatopoulos responded positively. "We could not reach our destination, but the journey has turned into a topic. When people start talking about this issue, it's a small victory. The Israelis did what they could to send us away. The fuss has helped to divulge again what is happening in the area, to hear about the Palestinian issue and the occupation of Gaza," Diamantopoulos concluded firmly.

Tags: PoliticsGazaShipsActivists
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