Hamas criticizes Greece for stopping Gaza boats

The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Friday denounced Greece after its coastguard intercepted a US vessel which tried to sail to Gaza to break Israel blockade of the coastal strip.

In a statement issued by its political leadership in Damascus, the militant group described the action as «inhumane» and said Greece had played into Israeli hands.

“This is inhumane action, is contrary to international regulations and norms,» said the statement by Hamas, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

“Barring this aid from reaching the Gaza Strip is done as a result of pressure imposed by the Zionist occupiers,» referring to Israel.

Hamas also called on the EU parliament and human rights organisations «to put pressure on the Greek government» to allow a planned flotilla of aid boats to set sail from Greece to Gaza.

The Israeli-imposed blockade of Gaza «is unjust… and a mark of disgrace on the forehead of humanity,» it said.

Earlier Friday, Greek coastguard officials intercepted the Audacity of Hope as it tried to set sail for Gaza in defiance of a Greek ban, to challenge Israel’s naval blockade of the Palestinian enclave, an activist on board said.

The boat, which is carrying 3,000 letters of support for Palestinians, left behind nine other ships which had planned to join the 2011 «Freedom Flotilla» which hopes to leave for Gaza on Sunday.

Israel has repeatedly said it is determined to stop the flotilla and has urged defiant organisers not to create «new friction» in the region.