Vessels registered under the Greek or a foreign flag are banned from leaving Greek ports if destined for the sea region of Gaza, Citizen Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis announced on Friday announced.
All measures necessary for the implementation of the decision are already being taken by Port Authorities nationwide, coast guard authorities said.
A flotilla of foreign-flagged vessels, as well as a Greek ship, were planning to ferry several hundred activists along with aid to Gaza, with the expressed the intention of breaching the Israeli navy’s sea blockade of the area.
Port authorities received orders from the ministry to present ship masters with a statement defining the sea region where the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza is into effect.
On June 22, a foreign ministry statement urged Greek citizens, as well as the owners of Greek-registered vessels not to participate in a new flotilla headed for the port of Gaza, underlining that “the government is responsible for planning and exercising the country’s foreign policy."
Organisers of the mission on Friday held a press conference decrying what they called a violation of maritime rules, charging that Greek authorities cannot prevent their departure, and that they are free to head wherever they want.
One of the vessels, the US-flagged "Audacity of Hope", had earlier departed from the port but was stopped some two nautical miles from Piraeus by Greek coast guard authorities.
Harbour Corps stops ship heading for Gaza
Following the decision by Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis to prohibit sailings of ships with a Greek or foreign flag, from Greek ports for the sea region of Gaza, ships with activists did not sail for the specific destination, in the framework of the initiative for solidarity to the Palestinians "A caravan for Gaza."
However, the American-flag ship "Audacity of Hope", with 36 activists, a five-member crew and 11 reporters, ignoring the ministerial decision, sailed from Perama. It was stopped, however, by a Harbour Corps vessel and had to return.