Joseph Dana writes from Athens:
Amid the economic and social upheaval of Greece’s beleaguered capital city, where demonstrators have been protesting government-imposed austerity measures, forty activists from across the United States began training this week to nonviolently confront the Israeli military blockade of Gaza. The Americans are part of a flotilla of ten ships—from France, Ireland, Canada, Norway, Greece, Sweden and other countries—planning to set out for Gaza’s main seaport in the next week to relieve the siege.
With an age gap of sixty years between the youngest and oldest passenger, the diverse group of Americans have taken over a hotel in a trendy Athens neighborhood for days of nonviolence training and preparation.
Israel has stated that it will enforce its naval blockade by any political, military and economic measures at its disposal. This week it submitted an urgent request to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asking for international cooperation in stopping the flotilla. Ban embraced the Israeli government’s position, arguing in a public statement that aid should be delivered to Gaza only through “legitimate crossings and established channels,” all of which are controlled by Israel. Ban added that the flotilla is not helpful in assisting the economy of Gaza and encouraged organizers to cancel their voyage.