A small group of foreign activists who had hoped to break Israel’s naval blockade on Hamas are instead heading for Greece. The activists, along with several Libyans, were trapped aboard the ship they had hoped to take to Gaza as the captain set sail for Greece instead.
The Greek captain of the Strofades IV left Libya without permission on Thursday following a lengthy dispute with the foreign Road to Hope activists over payment. Road to Hope organizers reported that the captain was planning to drop the activists off in Greece.
A separate report, from activists aboard the ship, indicated that the captain had “gone crazy” and had left the ship, taking off on a speed boat heading for a different vessel.
Three Libyans, two Irish citizens, seven British citizens and one Algerian were said to be aboard the boat against their will.
The captain set off from the Libyan port of Derma while the Strofades IV was still tied down, snapping the ropes holding his boat by force and heading for open waters. Libyan authorities had secured the boat while waiting to resolve the dispute between the captain and his passengers.
The “Road to Hope” is the new name for what was formerly known as Lifeline to Gaza, a project organized in part by the openly pro-Hamas group Viva Palestina. Road to Hope organizers say they now have no ties to Viva Palestina; they also claim to be “humanitarians… unaffiliated to any political organizations.”
The group describes Israel’s naval blockade of Hamas as a “siege,” despite the fact that goods are allowed into Gaza by land. It also accuses Israel of apartheid and ethnic cleansing. However, Road to Hope organizers say they do not condone “anti-Semitism in its true sense” – an apparent reference to old anti-Semitic libels meant to exclude extremist anti-Israel hate.
Some of the Road to Hope activists were aboard the Mavi Marmara, a ship that was part of a previous Gaza-bound flotilla that ended in violence. Passengers on the Mavi Marmara attacked IDF commandos who boarded the boat in an attempt to turn it aside; the attack led to a violent clash in which nine passengers were killed.