This afternoon I heard news that the boat meant to be transporting the Road To Hope convoy vehicles - currently numbering around 30 - had abandoned Derna port in northern Libya after some sort of incident and has sped away with one of the vehicles and 7 non-crew members across the Med pursued by Libyan authorities. It had half loaded one vehicle onto the vessel when there was an argument of some description, yet to be clarified, the captain tried to close the doors of the vessel and departed without untying the moorings, against the permission of Libyan port authorities, damaging the port side and carrying with it several Libyan police officers and the port manager as well as a few of the Road to Hope members.
Only two days ago Road to Hope convoy had appealed to supporters for emergency funds because the Egyptian authorities refused to allow them to enter Egypt by land and they had thus had to raise money, £37,000 for a ship to carry them to the sea port of Al Arish . The group amazingly managed to raise the money in a lightning quick period of time. At first look it seems the shipping agent and the captain have fallen out about payment and now the boat is half way to Cyprus or Greece. I have now rung the convoy phone and spoken to Road To Hope members who are currently camped up in the port. They are in fine spirits and are happy to know their colleagues are unharmed. It appears Libyan naval vessels and aircraft have been despatched after the ship. Road to Hope members do not intend to go anywhere from the port until they get transport arranged to Al Arish and on to Gaza so are currently politely refusing any invitation to leave Derna port and will remain where they are until they are on their way to Gaza. They have tea but apparently no biscuits which one member Tom Baker says may lead him to desperate measures ;).
The entire episode is completely avoidable if Egyptian authorities had allowed the peaceful aid workers to cross Egypt by land.
Meanwhile last week it was interesting to see that William Hague has experienced ambush and humiliation at the hands of the Israelis. I wrote him a letter of sympathy. His apologetic response to Israel when he visited last week in calling UK universal jurisdicition laws an 'unacceptable situation' is a reminder of how pathetic this country's leaders are when it comes to Israel. As I explained to him - there is little point in kow-towing to Israel over a strategic security meeting - what is the of the value of their security intelligence? I have just seen the report they produced about Mavi Marmara passengers and it is hilariously scant and innaccurate. So now I'm officially listed on their terrorist intelligence website, very funny. Add to this the fact that Israeli officers instruct their soldiers to breach international warfare rules as a matter of course - I don't see we have much to learn from them. We are perfectly good at telling our own soldiers to commit war crimes.
Electric Circus members have now completed their visit to Gaza and left the strip after a number of performances to children in Gaza - check the diary.