Activists: Israel presses Greece to halt flotilla

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Organizers of a flotilla to challenge Israel’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip say they’ll sail any day now, but are struggling to overcome delays that they blame on Israeli pressure. They have held regular news conferences to talk up their campaign, but are so cautious that they refuse to say where their boats are docked.

Dire warnings and diplomatic sensitivities shadow the politically charged plan to deliver aid to the Palestinian territory. The looming fear is a reprise of a similar mission a year ago that ended when nine activists on a Turkish vessel died in a raid by Israeli commandos who rappelled on board from helicopters in the pre-dawn darkness.

Several hundred activists, many of them from Europe, Canada and the United States, plan to board 10 boats, including two cargo vessels carrying medicine and other aid, for a journey of several days across the Mediterranean to Gaza.

Israel’s military has warned it will thwart any attempt to breach the sea blockade of the Palestinian territory, and says it has trained for an operation that would minimize the potential for casualties.

Activists view Israel’s blockade of Gaza as a human rights violation, while Israel says the restrictions prevent weapons from reaching Iran-backed Hamas militants who violently seized control of the Palestinian territory in 2007. Egypt also h… >>>

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