AGIOS NIKOLAOS, Crete - As of yesterday, the flotilla ships anchored in Greek ports were to depart today. The decision was made on Saturday, and all passengers were instructed to board the boats with their belongings and prepare to sail. The destination was not named.
Dylan Penner, a member of the steering committee for the Candian ship Tahrir, anchored at Agios Nikolaos, Crete, told Haaretz last night that the organizers have the support of Greek parliamentarians who intend to raise the matter in the legislature today. Penner, a cofounder of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, said legal measures are being considered following the announcement Saturday of the Greek Civil Defense Ministry that it would take steps to prevent the ships from leaving Greek ports.
Flotilla organizers say they heard about the Greek compromise offer only from Israeli news outlets. Penner said the proposal would not solve the problem of Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, and that the flotilla organizers object to the Gaza Strip's being turned into "an open-sky prison." They demand total freedom of movement for Gazans - by sea, to Rafah and to the West Bank.
Participants in the Socialist International held this weekend in Athens and presided over by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou were critical of the government's position on the flotilla.
Eight ships are anchored in various Greek ports. The U.S. ship, Audacity of Hope, was ordered back to port on Friday by the Greek Coast Guard after trying to sail from the port of Perama without authorization. Its captain, an American named John Klusmire, was arrested by the coast guard. An indictment on charges of sailing without permission and endangering passengers' lives is expected within a few days.
Flotilla members on the Audacity of Hope said they began a hunger strike yesterday outside the U.S. embassy in Athens, demanding recognition of their right to sail from Greece.
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