Canadian flotilla ship intercepted by Greek coast guards

Al Jazeera reports:

A Canadian ship taking part in a planned aid flotilla to Gaza has been forced to return to harbour in Crete after an attempt to reach international waters was thwarted by coast guards, according to onboard activists.

Most of the vessels which hoped to sail to Gaza in an effort to break Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory have been stuck in Greek ports after being refused permission to embark on the journey by Greek authorities.

The Tahrir sailed 15 minutes out of harbour before it was intercepted by coastguards, activists told Al Jazeera on Monday.

The boat, carrying activists from Canada, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Turkey, was forced to turn back to Aghios Nikolaos port in Crete.

“We are just being pulled into docks as we speak right now … [the coast guards] are in complete control of the boat,” Jesse Rosenfeld, a reporter with Toronto’s Now Magazine, who was on board the Tahrir when it set sail, told Al Jazeera.

Rosenfeld explained how the vessel managed to leave port: “In a matter of minutes, the people on the boat turned on the engines while two of the activists kayaked, trying to block the coast guard in port. At that point, the Tahrir made an open break through the port, shooting for international waters.”

The coast guard ship pursued the Tahrir, using water cannons and eventually boarding the ship, Rosenfeld said.

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