December 10, 2019

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Greek coast guard rams Canuck ship

OTTAWA — The Greek coast guard has damaged a Canadian ship bound for Gaza, forcing it back to shore after ramming it against a concrete pier, activists said Monday.

While it appeared the damaged ship would stay afloat, it was confined to a Greek port late Monday after an attempt to reach Gaza.

The Tahrir, carrying at least 30 Canadians, left a Greek port early Monday evening local time and was boarded 15 minutes later by armed officers from the Greek coast guard. Within an hour, the ship was at another Greek port.

A Canadian activist on board provided a description of the ship's boarding.

"We're slowly heading back. There's a new boat that's pulled up beside... must be another coast guard vessel," Dylan Penner said in a phone interview from the Greek-occupied vessel. Penner said eight to 10 armed coast guard officers boarded the ship and soldiers were in command of its bridge. No one on board was believed to be injured, and no shots were fired.

The Tahrir was one of several vessels aiming to breach Israel's sea blockade of the Gaza Strip in an attempt to deliver aid.

The Harper government has criticized the flotilla. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird urged those wishing to deliver humanitarian goods to do so through established channels such as the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent.

"We will provide consular assistance as required," said Chris Day, a spokesman for Baird.

Last year, nine activists were killed after Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish boat taking part in a similar flotilla.

 

— The Canadian Press

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