Nova Scotia

Halifax man attempts Gaza blockade run

A Nova Scotia activist is onboard a ship attempting to break Israel's naval blockage of the Gaza Strip Monday.

A Nova Scotia activist is onboard a ship that attempted to break Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip Monday.

Miles Howe, a Halifax-based musician and freelance journalist, spoke to CBC News after a high-seas drama off the coast of Greece. He and about 30 other Canadians are docked at Crete on the ship Tahrir, which means Liberation in Arabic.

Howe said it is carrying medical supplies and that there are 50 people on board. He said the group had been stuck in port at the island for several days as they waited for Greek permission to sail.

Howe said the crew lost patience Monday and decided to make a run for it. Two passengers got into kayaks and blocked a Greek coast guard cutter as the Tahrir sailed. It travelled about four kilometres before being boarded by members of the Greek military.  

"In the cabin of this boat, we had put up some wood blockades and then we'd put a few people standing there to, you know, get in the way," Howe said.

"And what happened is that unfortunately that all went down pretty fast. They just slammed through, seized control, kicked out all of us from captaining the boat. They seized control of the boat."

Attempt at sabotage fails

Howe said the Tahrir crew sabotaged the engine and tried other tactics, but it was towed back into Crete Monday afternoon. No arrests were made and the full crew remains on board.

Howe expects the Greeks to eventually force the crew off the boat, but said he plans to resist and force them to carry him off.

Activists on the Tahrir later tweeted that the vessel was damaged after it banged into a concrete wall on the way back into port.

The international group of 10 ships calls itself the Freedom Flotilla 2 after a similar group called Freedom Flotilla was boarded by Israeli forces as it tried to get to Gaza last year. Nine Turkish citizens died in the ensuing fight.

Israel says it imposed the Gaza Strip blockade, in place since 2007, to stop weapons reaching the political and militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza and is deemed a terrorist group by the United States, Canada, Israel and the European Union. Opponents say the blockade is unfairly harming all residents of Gaza.