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Greece halts Gaza flotilla, seizes lead ship

IDF Spokesperson

The Audacity of Hope, US-registered lead ship in the latest Gaza aid flotilla, was stopped by the Greek Coast Guard just some 20 minutes outside the port of Perama on July 1. Dimitris Delavekouras, a spokesman for the Greek Foreign Ministry, confirmed that the vessel had been detained. Athens warned that all ships bound for Gaza will be prohibited from leaving Greek ports. The Greek Ministry of Citizen Protection issued a statement saying that the Minister, C. Papoutsis, decided to prohibit the departure of ships flying either Greek or foreign flags "to the maritime area" of Gaza.

"By orders of the Hellenic Coast Guard Head Quarters to all local Hellenic Coast Guard Authorities, all appropriate measures are taken for the implementation of the said decision," the statement said, adding that the "broader maritime area of eastern Mediterranean will be continuously monitored by electronic means for tracking, where applicable, the movements of the ships allegedly participating" in the flotilla. Cyprus has already banned ships headed for Gaza from leaving its ports. (Jerusalem PostCNN, July 1)

Two days earlier, Greek authorities detained two of the ships docked in the Athens area, after the Israeli advocacy group, Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, submitted a complaint to the Coast Guard suggesting that seven of the ships might be lacking insurance or were improperly registered. (NYT. June 28)

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