Supplies loaded onto Libyan ship
Photo: AP

Gaza aid ship 'headed for Egyptian port'

Following intense Israeli diplomatic efforts, Greek shipping agent for Libyan vessel carrying '2,000 tons of food, medications' for Strip's residents says its documents indicate its destination is El-Arish Port

The Gaza aid ship of a charity headed by a son of Libyan leader Moamar Kadhafi, which set sail from Greece on Saturday, is heading for an Egyptian port, the shipping agent told AFP.


"All the ship's documents are in order, they indicate as its destination the Egyptian port of El-Arish," said Petros Arvanitis, the agent of the cargo ship Amalthea, which sail from Lavrio, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) southeast of Athens on Saturday evening.


However, the head of the Popular Committee against the Siege of Gaza, Jamal el-Hudari, said that the Libyan ship will reach the Gaza Strip.


El-Hudari told the Palestinian news agency Ma'an that he is in ongoing contact with the flotilla organizers and that they have no intention of anchoring in El-Arish.


The Tripoli-based Gaddafi International Charity and Development Association said Friday the Moldova-flagged ship was "loaded with about 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid in the form of foodstuff and medications" for Hamas-run Gaza.


Earlier Saturday the Greek foreign ministry had said it was in contact with Israeli diplomats about the aid ship.


Israel in turn said its intense diplomatic efforts with Moldova and Egypt had succeeded in keeping the ship from trying to break the Israeli naval blockade of the impoverished Palestinian territory.


A charity headed by Seif al-Islam Kadhafi, Kadhafi's second son who is widely seen as heir apparent, had engaged the 92-meter (302-foot) freighter with a 12-man crew and up to nine passengers to bring supplies to Gaza.


This latest attempt to defy the Israeli blockade comes after the killings in May of eight Turks and a dual US-Turkish citizen when Israeli commandos raided a flotilla heading for Gaza, sparking a furious row with Ankara which wants Israel to apologize or accept an international probe.


Libyan aid ship in Lavrio (Photo: AP) 


Israel claims its commandos only used force to defend themselves after being ambushed.


Israel imposed the blockade in June 2006 after one of its soldiers, Gilad Shalit, was kidnapped by Gaza terrorists and tightened it a year later when Hamas seized power in the coastal strip.


In the wake of the May 31 incident, Israel has significantly eased the blockade, barring only arms and goods that could be used to create weapons or build fortifications, but it has maintained the naval blockade.


Earlier Saturday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke with his counterparts in Greece and Moldova, and the three concluded that a Libyan aid ship would dock in Egypt. The foreign minister said he had clarified to his counterparts that Israel would not allow its blockade on Gaza to be broken.


Also on Saturday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke with the chief of Egypt's intelligence, Omar Suleiman, about the redirection of a Gaza-bound Libyan aid ship to Egypt. Their discussion centered on whether Egypt would be prepared to receive the ship at its El-Arish port.


On Friday Israeli Ambassador Gabriela Shalev urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to stop the ship from sailing to Gaza. The matter was raised in a meeting with Ban and his senior advisors.


An official letter on the matter was submitted to the UN chief, Security Council president and General Assembly president – Ali Treki of Libya. The Jewish state clarified in the letter that there were alternative ways to transfer humanitarian aid to Gaza, which have been welcomed by the UN institutions and the International Quarter on the Middle East.


Roni Sofer contributed to the report


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פרסום ראשון: 07.10.10, 17:36
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