The organizer of a Libyan charity ship
bound for Gaza says it's still en route to the Palestinian territory despite reports
it would divert to a nearby Egyptian port.
Youssef Sawani, executive director of Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, which mounted the aid operation, says the ship has 70 hours to reach Gaza.
He says the Moldovan-flagged Amalthea is currently near the Greek island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. He spoke to the Associated Press from aboard the vessel on Sunday. Sawani says they don't "want to cause any provocation" with Israel
and only wants to reach Gaza to deliver 2,000 tons of food and medical supplies.
Sawani's assistant in Greece also told Ynet he was not aware of any change of plans.
Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al),
who is contact with representatives of Gaddafi's organization, said that according to the most recent update he received from the group's men on board, the sail is continuing on its way to Gaza. "If there are no surprises or takeover at the heart of sea, the ship will proceed to its destination – towards the Strip."
The Libyan ship en route to Gaza (Photo: AP)
Meanwhile, Gazans are awaiting the Libyan ship, and Jamal al-Khudari, chairman of the Popular Committee Against the Siege said the vessel is moving forward towards the Strip. He said, "The ship's crew will not surrender to the Zionists' threats not to reach the Strip and dock in Ashdod." Al-Khudari added that besides delivering aid to Gaza, the ship's goal is also to raise awareness of the siege on the Strip.
The ship set sail despite diplomatic pressure
from Israel. The al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, responded to Israeli pressure saying, "I am not deterred by the threats. Our mission is humanitarian and this is not a military operation or an act of terror."
American Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz, conveyed an official protest to the organization headed by Gaddafi's son over his sponsorship of the ship, and noted that it constitutes a provocation.
Libya has rejected attempts by US elements to tie the flotilla to American threats to reopen the case of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Scotland in 1988.
Israel is closely tracking
the ship's progress. A military source said on Saturday, "Any deviation from the original course, which will lead the ship to Gaza, will be blocked by the Navy. In case those on board fail to follow our instructions to stop and allow the Navy vessels to escort them, we will not hesitate to employ other methods to stop them."