Greek coast guards have intercepted a Canadian boat setting sail on a humanitarian mission to the besieged Gaza Strip, activists say.
The Canadian "Tahrir" (Liberation) with at least 50 pro-Palestinian activists onboard left the Greek island of Crete on Monday despite Athens’ ban on all Gaza-bound ships leaving Greek ports.
Activists say the boat was encircled by Greek vessels about 10 minutes after leaving the harbor and was toed back to the port.
Activists onboard the boat say Greek troops took control of the boast by force, but there were no reports of clashes or injuries, a Press TV correspondent reported.
This is the third vessel from the Gaza Freedom Flotilla II to be barred from sailing for the besieged Palestinian territory from Greece.
A French vessel’s attempt to sail to Gaza has also been thwarted by the Greek coast guard officials.
The Louise Michel, with 24 passengers on board, was circled by Greek vessels on Monday as it started up its engines.
Also on Friday, the US Audacity of Hope boat was prevented from leaving Greece and its captain was arrested.
Activists from the US boat had begun a hunger strike in front of the US embassy on Sunday to protest against the arrest of Captain John Klusmer, but they were quickly moved on by police.
The 10-ship humanitarian flotilla has gathered in various Greek ports and was supposed to set sail for the Gaza Strip in early July in a bid to break Israel’s five-year blockade on the coastal territory which is home to 1.5 million Palestinians.
Members of the flotilla say the Greek government is blocking the humanitarian flotilla on behalf of Israel.
Greece has recently expanded its relations with Israel, and the two sides are currently holding preliminary talks on potential energy deals.
Greece’s cash-strapped government is also currently seeking additional sources of overseas investment, possibly from Israel, to offset its financial crisis.
Israel’s security cabinet has ordered the Israeli navy to use all possible means to prevent the incoming international aid flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip, but the Gaza Freedom Flotilla II organizers insist that they will push ahead with their aid mission.