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 – 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: 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,

… response on Astakos,

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 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


  • Hajira

    The protests and outcries against cruelty and injustice from around the world is truly heart-warming and gives us all hope that we CAN make a difference…keep up the great work!

  • Rachel

    Why should Israel not have the right to defend itself? It is surrounded by hostile enemy nations, some of them rogue and potentially developing nuclear weapons. Plus the Palestinians deliver weapons deeper into Israeli citizen territory every day. This is outright antisemitism and should not be applauded.

  • Rachel, pray tell, exactly what is “antisemitism”? The attempt by Greek bloggers to stop a huge shipment of arms routed illegally and covertly through their country’s soil to a country at the time arguably committing war crimes or my writing an article about it? I’m sorry, but it’s gonna take you a bit more work to hitchhike logic here.

  • Dear Rachel,

    Disagreeing with a government’s policies does not equal antisemitism. Furthermore, Arabs are Semites too. Therefore, your argument is completely laughable.


  • Rachel,
    Where do you get yr information from. Israel is armed to ite teeth and the Nuclear facility that it has is much stronger than that of Iran built with active support first from France and later from US.
    Even if US and EU countries are successful for Arms Embargo to both sides; Israel has so much supplies that it can continue fighting for more than a year without any replenishments.
    Israel was forcibly established within the region but centuries ago they all lived peacefully until UK,France and latern US made their political agendas to dominate for oil and then it thought the bast base would be Israel. Check it in the History records of Israel estblishment and you will get full details including building of Nuclear facility first in the region.

    • Al Malar Wallani

      True Rachel, no one denies that Israel is a Nuclear power , but what has that to do with what you were bringing up before? They have never threatened anyone with it like Iran.. What if you are such a small country living, legitimately in an area when people want to distroy you, wouldn’t you arm yourself too, to the teeth? If youed lived in a neighborhood where everytime you walked out of the house someone wanted to bomb you or shoot at you.. Would you not arm yourself?? Yes you would.. to protect your family .. and if they hurt your family would you torn the other cheek or go after them and make them sorry for the violence they started..and continue. If they would only stop the violence and let peace develop they would live a happier life and thrive and the neighbors would help rebuild and educate and live in harmony.. Do you think the Palestinians can be able to do that??

  • Rachel,
    The Zionists planned immigration to this land-theyb first choose Africa then America as land areas are vast and they could live exclusively as they wanted then the question of religion came and all plans changed– so they are forced here and earlier lived happily but then greed for power and domination followed and so the turmoil/conflict

    • Al Malar Wallani

      Not true at all. True they absolutely planned the migration BACK to their homeland Israel where they lived many thousands of years ago. They needed a safe place in the world where they could develop a Jewish state. Always wanting peace with the rest of the world. Impossible to understand my the Muslim states because of Jealousy and anger with their “cousins” of centuries ago.
      If Israel were land grabbers as the Palestinians want you to believe, and wanted more land, then they would have kept all the land they got from Egypt all the way to the Suez, but gave it all back.
      They are not greedy just a modern country living in and among archaic surfdoms, “governements” and stiffling sociologic policies. The Israelis have developed into a modern, successful economic, democratic country. Of which Much envy exists, which is shown in your comments. Turmoil and conflect develop when you live next to a government who sponsors and participates in Terrorism all over the world. Not just in Israel. Also a country who is the main sponsor of terrorism, Iran, Palestinians closest alley and support, which vows to destroy Israel.

  • Al Malar Wallani

    The Israelis are battleing an Enemy who will go to extrordinary means to destroy that country. They need all the help from other democratic countries. They are not an occupying country which is a farse and perpertrated by the Palesinians who had no “territory beyond their own homes they volontarily left to drive the Israelis into the sea in 1948. In 1967 the land they got in the westbank for the most part was governed by Jordan. If anyone could hold claim to that land it might be them. Certainly not by the Palestinian Territory inhabitants called now “The Palestinian People.” Trying to rewrite history is a ploy by the “Palestinian People: who have managed to convince most of the world of that situation called “Occupiers” which is not correct. They are not occupying anythong the then Palestinian refugies had ownership to. As a matter of fact the Jordanians had so much trouble with the migrating Palistinian refugies entering their country they pushed them out and into Lebanan who had trouble as well. People remember history.. not what the “Palestinian People” what you to believe.

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