Greek Ship Captain Threatens to Leave the Gaza Road to Hope Convoy

“We are being forcefully taken out of the harbour with the captain going crazy ordering the ship to leave!!!” Ken O’Keefe
Photo: Ken O’Keefe

(TOBRUK / SALEM) – “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,” wrote Ken O’Keefe, minutes ago.

And now, “We are being forcefully taken out of the harbour with the captain going crazy ordering the ship to leave!!!”

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.

The Mavi Marmara was the main ship in the Freedom Flotilla that sailed from Turkey en route for Gaza at the end of May. They were intercepted in international waters by the Israeli military and nine humanitarian activists were killed. According to the recent UN investigation of the tragedy at sea, five of the nine fatalities were deemed “executions”, at the hands of Israeli commandos.

There are eight people on the Road to Hope Convoy that were on the flotilla mission. Ken O’Keefe is one of them.

Friends and supporters were thrilled earlier today, to hear that they were on their way.

Strofades IV – IMO 8012152

About 11:00 a.m. PT Ken O’Keefe texted, “We have negotiated for all of the convoy members to travel with the ship to Al Arish, for an additional fee. All in all this is good news. Myself and Saeb Shaath remain on the ship to ensure it does not depart without all of us and our aid/vehicles. Now we just need to urge Egypt too allow all of us to reach Gaza as one. TJP”

Ellie Merton posted that she was “overwhelmed to report the convoy is at last embarking on a ship this evening, destined for El Arish before the weekend. The extraordinary people of Tobruk have persevered and won this epic bureaucratic battle for the convoy, for Libya, for Palestine and especially for Gaza. We LOVE Tobruk!”

Next Ken O’Keefe texted, “We are racing to catch the ship to Al Arish, 30 of us, including myself, are on the ship. The(y) will fly to meet us there. Barring further delay, we will be in Gaza within the next few days. Several survivors of the Mavi Marmara still with a green light to go. Wish us all good fortune. To our family in Gaza, we hope to see you soon.”

A few hours later, things again took a negative turn. “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…” O’Keefe said.

“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.

And now the world awaits, to see if they will be allowed to proceed to Gaza on the humanitarian mission.

Posted on November 11, 2010, in Updates. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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