'Gaza-bound flotilla yacht leaves Greece, sails to Egypt'

'Dignite/Al Karama' leaves Greek island, heading to Egyptian port of Alexandria, Greek officials say; yacht previously prevented sailing.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
July 17, 2011 03:57
2 minute read.
Freedom Flotilla 2

Freedom Flotilla 2 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Marko Djurica)

 
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One of the boats that was scheduled to take part in the Gaza-bound flotilla last week has set sail to Egypt from Greece, the Greek coastguard announced on Saturday. According to the coastguard, the Dignite/Al Karama left the tiny Greek island of Kastellorizo for the Egyptian port of Alexandria.

Authorities said that the yacht was previously prevented from leaving the Greek island after it caused damage to a vessel belonging to the Greek coastguard following a minor collision. Even though Greece banned any ships planning to taking part in the flotilla from setting sail via its ports, the Dignite/Al Karama had previously attempted to sneak away last week in defiance of the ban. It was later stopped and taken to the port of Sitia on Crete.

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Earlier in the week, Israel gave visiting Greek President Karolos Papoulias a warm embrace, with both President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu thanking and praising Athens for its role in foiling the Gaza-bound flotilla last week.

“I thank you very much for fulfilling the UN secretary general’s guidelines and stopping the flotilla,” Peres said at a meeting at Beit Hanassi. “Thank you for not allowing people interested in disturbing good order and international law from coming without supervision to Gaza, which is led by a terrorist group.”

By not allowing the protest ships to set sail from Greek ports, Greece helped “calm the waters” in the region, Peres said. He thanked Papoulias for his involvement, and for the way in which Greece handled matters in a very “strict and legal” manner.

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Netanyahu issued a statement after his meeting with the Greek president saying that he thanked Papoulias both for Greek help in stopping the flotilla, and for Greek aid in putting out the Mount Carmel Forest fire in December. Greece was the first country to send firefighting planes to help douse the blaze.

Netanyahu said that those wanting to “free Gaza” should free it from Hamas, which “acts with cruelty toward minorities and those who seek peace in the Strip.”

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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