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Nov-10-2010 15:04printcomments

Greek Ship Captain Threatens to Leave the Gaza Road to Hope Convoy

"We are being forcefully taken out of the harbour with the captain going crazy ordering the ship to leave!!!" Ken O'Keefe
Photo: Ken O'Keefe

(TOBRUK / SALEM) - "Now the captain is threatening to leave without us despite 75,000 dollars being paid to his agent for the charter of this ship. We are on the verge of a stand off using our bodies on the back of the ship," wrote Ken O'Keefe, minutes ago.

And now, "We are being forcefully taken out of the harbour with the captain going crazy ordering the ship to leave!!!"

O’Keefe is a part of the Road to Hope convoy, over a dozen vehicles on their way to Gaza to deliver much needed aid. They have been stuck in Libya at the Egyptian border for over two weeks, hoping to gain entry and passage to Gaza.

Things looked quite hopeful at first, and the group was confident that they would be successful in getting through to Gaza with the aid. But things change very quickly, particularly where politics and bureaucracy are concerned.

The best route at this point seems not to be through Egypt, but around it, via the sea. That plan created a new problem, coming up with an extra 100,000 British pounds to get the convoy to Gaza by boat instead of by land.

The Mavi Marmara was the main ship in the Freedom Flotilla that sailed from Turkey en route for Gaza at the end of May. They were intercepted in international waters by the Israeli military and nine humanitarian activists were killed. According to the recent UN investigation of the tragedy at sea, five of the nine fatalities were deemed "executions", at the hands of Israeli commandos.

There are eight people on the Road to Hope Convoy that were on the flotilla mission. Ken O'Keefe is one of them.

Friends and supporters were thrilled earlier today, to hear that they were on their way.

Strofades IV - IMO 8012152

About 11:00 a.m. PT Ken O'Keefe texted, "We have negotiated for all of the convoy members to travel with the ship to Al Arish, for an additional fee. All in all this is good news. Myself and Saeb Shaath remain on the ship to ensure it does not depart without all of us and our aid/vehicles. Now we just need to urge Egypt too allow all of us to reach Gaza as one. TJP"

Ellie Merton posted that she was "overwhelmed to report the convoy is at last embarking on a ship this evening, destined for El Arish before the weekend. The extraordinary people of Tobruk have persevered and won this epic bureaucratic battle for the convoy, for Libya, for Palestine and especially for Gaza. We LOVE Tobruk!"

Next Ken O'Keefe texted, “We are racing to catch the ship to Al Arish, 30 of us, including myself, are on the ship. The(y) will fly to meet us there. Barring further delay, we will be in Gaza within the next few days. Several survivors of the Mavi Marmara still with a green light to go. Wish us all good fortune. To our family in Gaza, we hope to see you soon.”

A few hours later, things again took a negative turn. "55,000 dollars have been transferred for ship payment, despite this the Greek owner of the ship (the Strofades IV, Malta flagged) is currently refusing us to board the ship..." O'Keefe said.

"We now have about 8 of our brothers and one vehicle on the back ramp as the captain is lifting it. Our vehicle is on the verge of sliding down the ramp and slamming into deck," O'Keefe said at 2:10 p.m. PT.

And now the world awaits, to see if they will be allowed to proceed to Gaza on the humanitarian mission.

Previous reports on the Road to Hope Convoy:

Nov-03-2010: In Limbo in Libya: Gaza Road to Hope Convoy Urges Contact with Egyptian Embassies - Tim King

Nov-01-2010: Road to Hope (R2H) Convoy in Positive Dialogue with Egyptian Officials -

Oct-30-2010: Road to Hope Convoy Stalled at Egyptian Border -

Oct-29-2010: Egypt Working with Road to Hope Convoy: Group Still Enroute to Gaza - Tim King

Oct-26-2010: Road to Hope Convoy with Ken O'Keefe Approaching Gaza - Tim King


Bonnie King has been with since August '04, when she became Publisher. Bonnie has served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB) and Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas", posts as TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), Radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and Newspapers In Education/Circulation Sales Manager (STATESMAN JOURNAL NEWSPAPER). Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly present each story with the wit and wisdom necessary to compel and captivate viewers. View articles written by Bonnie King

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Ishfaq July 18, 2012 5:54 am (Pacific time)

First of all, Dr. Gilbert was not the first person to tell me that amcblanues had been hit, either directly or indirectly by Israeli air strikes. A wide variety of doctors, paramedics and officials have been telling me this for days. I can also confirm that there was an explosion near the Egyptian border with Gaza shortly before the convoy arrived. It was just on the other side of the border gate. Whether or not amcblanues are being directly targeted, they are certainly driving in a treacherous environment.As for the hellish conditions at Al-Shifa hospital, this has been confirmed by journalists inside Gaza through their photographs and footage. I find it extremely unfortunate that the television footage, in particular, is not widely available to people around the world. Secondly, your attempt to discredit Dr. Mads belies the fact that he is one of the few "Western" people to see and hear first-hand what is actually going on in Gaza, because, as you may know, Israel has so far denied all access to "Western" journalists. Until Israel allows us to see and hear for ourselves the conditions in Gaza, we have to use the words and experiences of others to tell the story.I'm sorry you're having a hard time believing this. I really don't want to believe it either, but in the face of overwhelming evidence, this is what I've been able to report so far.

Israel Israeli November 12, 2010 4:58 am (Pacific time)

Much needed aid my *&%*&^!!! Not everyone buys into the "poor" Palestinians false cry for help while launching rockets at Israel and so the is this captain who rightfully so wants his money. I guess the activists just like Gazans thought they could live on everyone's expense and it didn't pan out too well. Tough luck. Cough up the money. And for the hypocritically shocked people, here are some photos about the situation in Gaza requiring the much needed aid...

 Gaza video

judith kazantzis November 11, 2010 2:01 am (Pacific time)

what an extraordinary story - how awful when Tobruk has been so incredibly supportive. who is this mad greek? surely the libyan authorities shd arrest the captain, and bring back th runaway ship and put the convoy under its protection finally and escort it to al arish

dannykid November 12, 2010 7:19 am (Pacific time)

Sounds like a comedy of errors. Where'd you get all that money that you so recklessly throw around at ship captains? Can't be yours. Wouldn’t it be better spent to help the poor Arabs of Gaza overthrow their islamofascist Hamas oppressors?

Editor: Hamas is the strength of Palestine.  Israel is a terrorist nation that operates illegally on several counts, according to the United Nations.  You are a card by the way; sticking up for Israel and calling Hamas fascist?  That is genuinely funny.  Thank God we are here to tell people the truth.   Sadly people like you fill the ranks of media in the US and make a profound, tragic difference.  As far as money goes, why is that your busines? 

Maty November 11, 2010 5:31 pm (Pacific time)

Ken, call the coastguard or dock authorities not the media!

jimmy November 11, 2010 10:49 am (Pacific time)

Not to support this nutjob of a capitan but you cannot just walk on board with a wad of cash and expect a ship owner to do ANYTHIGN in your interest without a signed charter party outlining the conditons of carriage. Sounds like someone just donated some money to this guys favorite charity.

judikaz November 11, 2010 2:06 am (Pacific time)

what a n awful thing after tobruk has been so generous and supportive. as the partner of one of the convoy drivers i plead with and sinerely hope the libyan government will finally stop all this madness that the convoy is having to endure before there is tragedy, detain captain rescue the convoy aboard an take the whole convoy under libyan protection to al arish, so it can drive to rafah

Ken O'Keefe via Facebook November 10, 2010 4:08 pm (Pacific time)

Captain still crazy, has rammed the dock and nearly another ship. Call the media!

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