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Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Gaza "aid" ship - hijacked?

From CNN:
Diplomats are working Thursday to resolve a reported hostage-taking on a ship with a Gaza-bound convoy.

The ship is the Greek-owned Strofades IV -- part of a convoy sponsored by the Road to Hope, an independent group of activists working to break Israel's siege of Gaza.

Ten convoy members -- six Britons, two Irish citizens, an Algerian, and a Moroccan -- were taken hostage, the group said. Also taken hostage were the manager of Libya's Derna port and two port authority police officers, it said.

The British Foreign Office said Thursday the vessel departed Libya and is headed toward Greece.
And guess who is on the ship: Ken O'Keefe, plus seven others who tried to get to Gaza in the summer Flotilla of Fools.

The existence of this ship has passed very low under the radar, but apparently it has had problems for a while. First it was a convoy, but Egypt apparently refused to let it through from Libya.

From the far-left Salem-News:
O’Keefe is a part of the Road to Hope convoy, over a dozen vehicles on their way to Gaza to deliver much needed aid. They have been stuck in Libya at the Egyptian border for over two weeks, hoping to gain entry and passage to Gaza.

Things looked quite hopeful at first, and the group was confident that they would be successful in getting through to Gaza with the aid. But things change very quickly, particularly where politics and bureaucracy are concerned.

The best route at this point seems not to be through Egypt, but around it, via the sea. That plan created a new problem, coming up with an extra 100,000 British pounds to get the convoy to Gaza by boat instead of by land.
O'Keefe's text messages tell what happened next:

"55,000 dollars have been transferred for ship payment, despite this the Greek owner of the ship (the Strofades IV, Malta flagged) is currently refusing us to board the ship..."

"We now have about 8 of our brothers and one vehicle on the back ramp as the captain is lifting it. Our vehicle is on the verge of sliding down the ramp and slamming into deck," O'Keefe said at 2:10 p.m. PT.

"Now the captain is threatening to leave without us despite 75,000 dollars being paid to his agent for the charter of this ship. We are on the verge of a stand off using our bodies on the back of the ship."

"We are being forcefully taken out of the harbour with the captain going crazy ordering the ship to leave!!!"
Then,
The violent Greek owner who is also its captain of "Strofades IV" has just disembarked (as at 22.50 GMT) through a side door of the ship, onto a speed boat. His speed boat has made for another cargo vessel in Derna the harbour - "Odin Finder".

None of our guys now know who is in charge of Strofades IV, or where it is destined to go.

The ship is empty, apart from the hostages and single convoy vehicle jammed in the doorway. It is making rapid headway to get out to sea.
So nutty Israel-haters are being shipped towards Greece, and they don't know who is steering the ship. We know who they'll blame, though.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

(h/t Harry)