Flotilla Organizers Reject Greek Offer

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Organizers of Freedom Flotilla 2 rejected an offer by the Greek government to transport its cargo of humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou offered to deliver the goods to Israel's Ashdod port or Egypt's el-Arish port, where it would be transferred by land to Gaza.

But the flotilla -- down to nine vessels and fewer than 300 activists -- remained committed to its plan to break Israel's naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

"Greece reiterates its willingness and proposes to undertake the task of transporting humanitarian aid with Greek vessels or other appropriate means through the existing channels," a government statement read.

"To this avail, Greece will come into immediate and direct contact with the U.N. and all the concerned parties in order to render the mission feasible on behalf of our country," the statement read.

Greek authorities announced Friday that none of the Gaza-bound flotilla boats would be permitted to set sail.

The Greek Coast Guard aborted an attempt by the captain of the U.S. boat, "The Audacity of Hope," to leave without permission, taking him into custody on charges of disregarding the order and endangering the lives of his passengers.  

"The captain has been charged with a felony," al-Jazerra quoted flotilla organizer Adam Shapiro as saying. "Initially it was a misdemeanor, but it has been upgraded to a felony," he said.

Shapiro called the move was a "political maneuver…orchestrated by the Israeli government and probably the U.S. government."

Some of the 36 passengers and 10 crew members declared a hunger strike over the weekend and demonstrated in front of the U.S. embassy in Athens.

Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Papandreou for preventing the boats from leaving the port.

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