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Apparent sabotage against Gaza flotilla

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Petros Giannakouris/AP

(Read caption) US activists chant slogans as they hold placards after a news conference about an international flotilla to blockaded Gaza, in Athens, Monday, June 27, 2011.

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A ship jointly owned by Swedish, Greek, and Norwegian activists hoping to join a flotilla of activist vessels challenging Israel's economic blockade of Gaza, had its propeller cut while in Athen's harbor today. A spokesman contacted by the Monitor said that the damage was a deliberate act of sabotage.

Israel and its allies have been working hard to head off the planned flotilla, which is hoping to enter the waters off Gaza in the next week. Col. (ret) Ann Wright, who's organizing a US vessel named the Audacity of Hope for the flotilla, says her ship has been detained in Athens on spurious charges that it's not seaworthy. She says that charge was made by an Israeli legal group.

Now the Juliano is held up. Mikael Löfgren, a spokesman for Ship to Gaza Sweden, says the damage was discovered at 6:30 in the evening Athens time today, and that divers probably cut the propeller in the past 24 hours.

"The reports I'm receiving is that it's certain that it was sabotage," says Mr. Löfgren, reached by phone in Sweden. "The propeller and [propeller shaft] has been cut and we have divers that have filmed the damages. Experts have said there’s no doubt" that the damage was deliberate.

He says that repairing the damage will take a few days. As to who is responsible, he declined to speculate. "We simply don't know who did it, but it's obviously a hostile act," says Löfgren.

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