Greek opposition questions US arms shipment to Israel

The U.S. military said on Monday it cancelled the shipment of 325 containers of ammunition from the western Greek port of Astakos to a U.S. stockpile in Israel.

Greek opposition questions US arms shipment to Israel


Greece's opposition said the ruling conservatives on Tuesday allowed U.S. arms shipments to Israel via a Greek port for over a year, despite the government's denials.

The U.S. military said on Monday it cancelled the shipment of 325 containers of ammunition from the western Greek port of Astakos to a U.S. stockpile in Israel, citing safety concerns at the Israeli port of destination due to the conflict in Gaza.

However, a Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday the transport had been cancelled at the request of the Greek government. Reports of the shipment had provoked a media outcry in Greece, where Israel's 18-day-old offensive in Gaza is deeply condemned.

Greece's opposition PASOK party submitted questions to parliament asking whether U.S. arms shipments to Israel via Astakos, which it said dated back to September 2007, had been approved by the government.

"Did the foreign ministry and other relevant ministries approve these shipments or was Greek and international law replaced by practices that weaken the sovereignty of this country?" read the PASOK statement.

Greece's Communist party and a left-wing coalition have called demonstrations at Astakos for Wednesday and Thursday.

PASOK said the shipments were organised by a Greek-based detachment of the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command with the permission of Greek authorities. It called for all the related documentation to be made public.

"I think the Greek government has some issue with the offloading of some of that shipment in their country and we are finding alternative means of getting that entire shipment to its proper destination in Israel," said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

Greece's ruling New Democracy party has said in recent days it has not allowed supplies to the Israeli army to pass through Greece. It went further on Tuesday by saying it had not given permission for any U.S. arms shipments bound for Israel.

"The Greek side didn't allow such a transport," said government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, asked about the latest cargo. A shipping tender issued on Dec. 31 by the U.S. military, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, showed the destination of the cargo was the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Gaza's Health Ministry say more than 971 Palestinians have been killed, a third of them were children, by Israeli strikes in the offensive which Israel launched on Dec. 27. On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and three civilians hit by Hamas rockets have died.

Reuters

Last Mod: 14 Ocak 2009, 12:42
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