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Greece: Outcry over arms shipment to Israel

With the war raging in Gaza, news reports earlier this month about the routing of an extraordinarily large shipment of arms from the United States to Israel through the private Greek port of Astakos caused an uproar among Greek bloggers. They used Twitter to investigate the matter and put pressure on the government to halt the transfer.

Delivery of the munitions was suspended, just as the Greek government was coming under fire from opposition parties, and Amnesty International was calling for an arms embargo.

At first, official sources contested the story from the international news agency Reuters on January 9. But it was picked up by Twitter users and investigated after Indy.gr – an offshoot of the Indymedia Athens group – provided a translation of the article in Greek.

The idea to organize an embargo of the port was proposed and widely “re-tweeted”:

itsomp: http://is.gd/f8Wa Can we organise an embargo of the port of Astakos? Only the US and Israeli ships…

Some tweeted direct queries to the Greek foreign minister, whose web team is operating a Twitter account:

magicasland: @Dora_Bakoyannis τι γίνεται με το φορτίο του Αστακού; Δε θέλουμε εμπλοκή της Ελλάδας στο μακελειό της Γάζας

Dora Bakoyannis, what's going on with the Astakos shipment? We don't want Greece to become embroiled in the Gaza massacre

Breaking with earlier practice not to converse through Twitter, the minister's team responded directly:

Dora_Bakoyannis: @olrandir, @asteris, @gtzi, @magicasland, Απάντηση ΝΜ και για Αστακό, http://tinyurl.com/9ts6xw

… response on Astakos, http://tinyurl.com/9ts6xw

The link led to an official ministry statement stating that shipping of arms through Astakos or other Greek ports is a “non-issue” and vaguely denying press reports to the opposite.

However, blogger Odysseas had by then located the solicitation for the shipment on a US federal website:

Στην παρακατω παραπομπη θα βρειτε το σημα που εξεδωσε το Αμερικανικο ναυτικο για μεταφορα πολεμικου υλικου απο το λιμανι του Αστακου στο Αστοντ του Ισραηλ. Το φορτιο υπαρχει ηδη και περιμενει αναδοχο μεταφορεα.

In the following link you'll find the US Navy note about the shipment of munitions from the port of Astakos to Ashdod, Israel. The cargo exists and is awaiting a transport contractor

And Twitter users kept up the pressure, despite the official denial:

magicasland: @Dora_Bakoyannis και η αμερικάνικη σελίδα που αναφερει το φορτιο τι είναι τότε;

Dora Bakoyannis, what's with the [solicitation] webpage, then?

The next day, news media reported that the shipment transfer had been canceled. This was also promptly tweeted:

myrto_fenek: Αναβλήθηκε, λόγω των συγκρούσεων στη Γάζα, η αποστολή πολεμοφοδίων μέσω του Αστακού

The transfer of munitions via Astakos was canceled because of the Gaza conflict!

Blogger magicasland.com summarized the outcome:

Σημερινή δημοσίευση του ΑΠΕ αναφέρει ότι αναβλήθηκε η μεταφορά του φορτίου των 325 κοντέινερ με πολεμοφοδία από τον Αστακό στο λιμάνι Ασντοντ [..] Το μόνο σίγουρο είναι πως το φορτίο θα μεταφερθεί κάποια στιγμή. Αρκεί όμως να μη μεταφερθεί τώρα και από εδώ.

An APE [Greek news agency] bulletin today mentions that the transfer of the 325 containers of munitions shipment from Astakos to the port of Ashdod was cancelled. [..] It's certain that the shipment will be transferred at some point; just as long as it isn't now and from here.

Blogger coolplatanos investigated further, discovering an additional arms shipment solicitation, and verifying that the original solicitation was cancelled:

έχει υπάρξει και προγενέστερη προκήρυξη ναύλωσης με ημερομηνία ανάθεσης της σύμβασης την 6η Δεκεμβρίου του 2008 (πρώτη δημοσίευση μάλλον στις 4 Δεκεμβρίου) πάλι από το αμερικάνικο πολεμικό ναυτικό. Αυτή η ναύλωση αφορά και πάλι πυρομαχικά και μεγαλύτερο όγκο φορτίου, αφού ζητείται πλοίο ελάχιστης χωρητικότητας 989 TEU’s[..]

Πάντως σήμερα 13 Ιανουαρίου και ώρα 9:05 am (Αμερικής φαντάζομαι) υπάρχει ενημέρωση στη σελίδα του μειοδοτικού διαγωνισμού για τη ναύλωση του πλοίου που αφορούσε τα 325 κοντέινερ και η ένδειξη ότι “ακυρώθηκε προς το παρόν”.

Τις παραπάνω ναυλώσεις τις έψαξα μέσω google αυτοσχεδιάζοντας [..]

… there was also a previous solicitation with a contract award date of December 6, 2008 (first published December, 4), again by the US Navy. This is another munitions solicitation, for a bigger load this time, since a vessel with a minimum carrying capacity of 989 TEUs was requested.

In any case, today January 13 [09:00 EST], the solicitation page for the 325 TEU vessel was updated as “cancelled for the time being”.

I looked up the above solicitations by improvising on Google search

  • Asteris: Thunbs up! Great article, congrats!

  • Pingback: Outcry over Arms Shipment from US to Israel via Greece | Teeth Maestro()

  • Congratulations to the Greek efforts. Here is my comments:-

    The 43rd President George W.Bush still has five days before he hands over Presidency to the new elected 44th President Barack .H.Obama on January 20,2009.

    Why doesn’t President Bush initiate immediately to declare an “EMBARGO” for supply of “ARMS and AMMUNITION” for the middle-east region. President Bush can use the Tele-conference system with the Leaders of EU Countries and keep the future President 0baman posted of the details so that he can find it convenient to follow-up with the decisions finalized for the “EMBARGO”.

    If this “EMBARGO” is not effected then the conflict in Gaza or conflict between Palestine and Israel will never cease. When people are in possession of arms they tend to dominate over others and never solve any conflicts or problems humanely.

    \

    It is my earnest hope that this message can reach the World Leaders and Readers,both. Let us hope that wisdom will prevail amongst thethe World Leaders and these Leaders will listen to the appeal of the United Nations and cries of the suffering victims that includes women, children and old people; sufferings of the pains of war- not only from war in Gaza but in Iraq, Afghanistan,Pakistan, Kashmir, SriLanka and other places, including the African countries. I appeal to the Readers to support this policy of “EMBARGO”.

    In this modern world of enlightenment and develpment,where through the service of the internet people all over the world can find or make friends, I find it very difficult to believe that the World Leaders cannot find friends but continue making foes by adopting wrong policies of the centuries old Stone-Age periods.

    The people of the world,irrespective of the religion they follow, are aware of the fact that the theory, “I am the State”, have died with the ending of the French Revolution and that modern world is moving away from “Master-Slave” pattern to “DEMOCRACY”. Will the World Leaders, please analyse their own conscious and take responsibility to create a friendly World???

    PLEASE CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THE ARMS EMBARGO POLICY

  • Congratulations to the web-revolutionaries of Greece who putting the power of free voice to such great use. I’m inspired, made hopeful again, by the strength of their Action.
    Bright blessings to them,
    Refuge and sanctuary to the women and children of Gaza.
    In hope.

  • Pingback: Readers Edition » Griechenland: Empörung über Waffenlieferung an Israel()

  • Congrats, great article and great effort from people who decide to act at a difficult time for serious matters.

    Good Job.

  • Marty

    Congratulation, fine work of the GREEK Citizens stop the arms shipment to ISRAEL.. Saved the lifes of children and woman in PALESTINE….. Hold the weapons as long possible..

  • Pingback: Greece: Outcry Over Arms Shipment to Israel - Times Topics Blog - NYTimes.com()

  • Pingback: Μαθήματα δημοσιογραφίας « Μετά την εφημερίδα()

  • well done Asteris! we continue the fight..

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