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Report: Egypt refuses to stop Iranian ships
Kuwaiti paper says Egypt denied Israeli request to prevent Gaza aid ships from passing through Suez Canal

Egypt rejected Israel's request not to assist the Iranian ships slated to sail to the Gaza Strip in the coming days, Kuwaiti paper al-Dar reported on Friday. The report was not confirmed by any official Egyptian elements.

 

Facts regarding the Iranian flotilla to Gaza are vague and shrouded in mystery. As of yet, it is unclear whether the ships have already set sail, and the number of people on deck is unknown.

 

At the start of the week Iranian state radio reported that the first ship has already set sail and that another ship was slated to leave this weekend.

 

According to the Iranian Red Crescent, the ships are carrying humanitarian aid including gifts for the children of Gaza, baby cloths, toys and dolls.

 

The Kuwaiti report, which cites Egyptian sources, said the officers of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak appealed to Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and asked he prevent the passage of Iranian ships through the Suez Canal.

 

The Israeli sources argued in their request that Iran supports the Hamas organization, which is a terror group that also operates against the Egyptian authorities.

 

According to the paper's sources, the Egyptians rejected the Israeli request, and stressed in their response that, due to the international agreements on movement through the Suez Canal, Egypt cannot prevent any ship from sailing through it, unless it is a ship belonging to a state that is at war with Egypt, which is not the case with Iran.

 

The sources added that Cairo does not wish to be perceived as standing in the way of international organizations and Arab and Islamic states' desire to deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people and break the Israeli siege on the Strip.

 

Meanwhile, the al-Dar report also cited sources from Iran's Interest Section in Egypt as saying that Cairo has issued entry visas for hundreds of Iranian citizens who has requested to accompany the ships in a land convoy.

 

The visas permit entry to the Strip via Rafah crossing for Iranian Red Crescent teams and humanitarian aid volunteers.

 

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