Yesterday, sometime around late morning I walked down to the marina in Agios Nicolaos (on the island of Crete) where the Tahrir, the Canadian boat to Gaza, was and continues to be docked. I got on board and realized very quickly that an official from the the local Port Authority was on board trying to obtain the Tahrir's original papers. One of the Steering Committee Members was actively in discussion with him refusing to let the papers leave the boat. In the end she and he left the boat (both holding on to these papers), followed by a contingent of our Palestine solidarity activists and went to the Port Authority's office who were demanding to know why the Port Authority was wanting to remove these papers from the Tahrir. Incidentally, the Tahrir's papers were never surrendered to the Port Authority as it would have been impossible for us to leave port without them.
The reasons given as to why they wanted our papers or have refused to let the Tahrir leave have varied. The real reason however, was in the end a ministerial order directing all harbours where ships for the Freedom Flotilla 2 are docked to prevent them from leaving to Gaza. The Greek Coast Guard were directed to prevent these boats from leaving. One such large ship was also located just around the corner from the docking place of the Tahrir, effectively preventing us from leaving harbour. In addition ships docked near the Tahrir have been moved enabling the Coast Guard to keep an eye on us and again prevent us from leaving should we try to make a break for it. Which is now pretty much impossible.
In addition, a Greek MP (Mikhalis Kritsotakis) who has been acting in solidarity with the Freedom Flotilla 2 and specifically with the Canadian boat to Gaza, the Tahrir, has come to visit our boat, talk to us and to the press and to advocate on behalf of the flotilla! When asked how he knows that Israel was the reason for the Greek government's refusal to let the Flotilla's ships leave he answered that he knew this because Netanyahu thanked Greece for helping them prevent the Flotilla 2 from sailing to Gaza! He further stated that Greece is part of Israeli foreign policy now and that the Greek government will do whatever Israel asks them to do.
Various articles have now been published (hasbara) stating we're in disarray (the activists on board these boats, the steering committees, etc.), but these are all fabrications. They (the Israeli government) wish we were in disarray, but we are not! Our response has been well coordinated and work is still under way for the Flotilla's ships to possibly leave port! And if not, this is a lesson learned and we can try again next year as far as I'm concerned.
The Israeli government engine is in fact still in a tizzy! They are following us around, taking pictures of us...it is all very interesting. One guy today started taking pictures of me and an activist friend I was with. Without even trying to hide! So I borrowed a journalist's camera, walked up to him and started taking pictures of him!
Local sentiments are clearly with us. But the Greek government has extended/outsourced the Israeli blockade to their own shores...in many ways against the will of their own people. The so-called disarray is in fact at the federal Greek and Israhelli level! Which indicates a major success achieved by the Freedom Flotilla 2.
Next year we WILL reach the Gaza shore! And if we have to swim there!
~ Sofia Smith