Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Cruiser "Dignity" carrying international activists and aid for Gaza was rammed by an Israeli naval ship off the Gaza Strip. Activists from the "Free Gaza" movement claimed that the Israelis demanded the vessel return to Cyprus, although it did not have enough fuel. The captain of the Israeli ship told Dignity's captain that he had been involved in terrorism. Finally, the aid boat docked Tuesday in the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre. Hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese had gathered to welcome it. Free Gaza is a U.S.-based organization which has sent regular shuttles of aid to Gaza from Cyprus since August."It was like ramming a Mini (car) with a truck," Eleni Theocharous, a Cypriot lawmaker on board the boat, told reporters. Cyprus state radio said the Cypriot government would seek explanations from Israel over the incident. The vessel was carrying medical aid donated by Cyprus and there were at least three Cypriots on board, including the parliamentarian. A reporter on board said the boat ran no risk of sinking. SYN (Coalition of the Radical Left) stressed in its statement: "We vehemently condemn Israel's new act of war in international waters against Dignity, which carried humanitarian aid to Gaza, a region suffering from a huge humanitarian crisis due to [ Israel defend itself ]. We urge the Greek administration and the EU to step up measures against Israel's raids."