With multiple ships disabled, Gaza flotilla organizers regroup in Greece
Irish group pulls out of flotilla due to alleged sabotage, for which they are blaming Israel; others are getting ready to receive the call instructing them to start sailing.
GREECE - With two ships sabotaged - the Irish ship is in no condition to sail and the Swedish-Greek-Norwegian Giuliano is still being repaired - the impulse is to depart from port and wait for the rest at sea, along with the French ship that sailed Saturday. This is also the wish of all those on the Tahrir, the Canadian ship with its 50 passengers.
The backpacks allowed on deck are half-packed, in a state of near readiness. The lists of telephone numbers are ready, in case there's a need to rush for a quick departure.
Psychologically people are getting ready to receive the call at three in the afternoon or two in the morning, and they know who they have to call in turn.
The strict instructions are not to be more than a 20-minute walk from the hotel. And certainly not to dream about taking a tour bus to ancient Greek sites, to climb a mountain or to risk inhaling tear gas during a demonstrations in Athens. But these instructions have been in place for days, so the fact that they appear in print is not enough to hint at a time of departure.
At the Athens press conference the flotilla organizers held on Monday, some journalists insisted on being told where the ships are. But the sabotage proved how logical it was to refuse to answer the question.
In both case of sabotage what was targeted were the rods connecting the propeller shaft to the engine. Two more points for those who present the flotilla as a declaration of war.
For the Giuliano, a routine inspection while it was in port revealed the sabotage, but the sabotage of the Irish ship Saoirse (freedom ) was discovered while it was being tested at sea, not far from the Turkish port where it was anchored. The crew found that something was wrong. The crew's assessment is that the sabotage was not meant to prevent their departure but to worsen at sea. That way, the lives of the passengers and the crew would be endangered.
Due to the seriousness of the damage, the Irish group is finding it difficult to pay for the repairs.
"Israel is trying to outsource the siege on Gaza to Greece and the U.S.," said Dror Feiler at the press conference. In other words, it turns other countries into collaborators in the imposition of the siege by blocking the flotilla - with warnings, threats, bureaucratic delays and adopting a "provocation" narrative. It seems like the participants in the flotilla are undergoing a process of "Gaza-tization." They are willingly experiencing, for a few days, some of the characteristics of life under siege in the Gaza Strip. They are tied up against their will within a limited radius of several kilometers. Their plans are repeatedly foiled by superior forces. Their clearance to depart has been canceled, and they are waiting for it to be renewed.
One of the participants in the flotilla is Mohammed Hamou, 29, a teacher of history, math and English as a second language at a high school in Canada and an instructor on religion at a university in Ontario.
"Are you not concerned about how the Israeli authorities will treat you because of your name?" I asked him.
"I would hope not. I hope to be treated as a Canadian citizen, a citizen of the world, and even asking this question should make us reflective about the treatment of non-Westerners in Israel," he said.
About 1,000 Muslims study at the University of Western Ontario, where he serves as their chaplain. His mother was born in Lebanon, and her family emigrated there in the 1950s. His father was born in Syria. He was born in Canada.
"Why are you on the ship?"
"As a conscious citizen of the world, who wants to assist the people who are in need and also to help guide governments of this world, I feel they are not doing enough. And therefore the citizens should stand up."
Israel is not the only class bully in the world, he says, so it's important for citizens of the world to act together. "The Palestinians need help from the outside," says Hamou.