July 4 - Activists on a French aid vessel to Gaza are prevented from setting sail from Greece. Simon Hanna reports.
Activists on a French aid vessel chant against the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The "Louise Michel" and its crew tried to set sail on a humanitarian mission to Gaza on Monday but were blocked by the Greek coast guard. This is the second vessel from the Gaza Freedom Flotilla to be barred from sailing from Greece. Last week a boat of American activists was also prevented from leaving after Athens banned ships aiming to break the blockade. Some of this boat's 24 passengers told coast guards they should be allowed to carry out their mission. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNAMED FRENCH ACTIVIST: "On this ship we have a small bag of medicine to take to Gaza, only medicine." (SOUNDBITE) (English) PALESTINIAN DEPUTY MUSTAGA BARGHOUTI: "What we want to understand is why these people and me are blocked from going to my country, we are not going to Israel, we are going to Palestine, to my country." The 350 plus activists on board say they are carrying much-needed medicine and building materials. None of the international ten vessel flotilla has yet been given approval to leave Greek shores. Greek authorities say their ban is out of concern for the safety of the passengers. Last year nine activists were killed in the first Gaza Freedom Flotilla when Israeli soldiers raided the Turkish Mavi Mara. Israel has imposed a land, sea and air blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2007. Simon Hanna, Reuters.