Libyan vessel
Photo: AP

Navy contacts Libyan ship

Confrontation looming? Libyan Gaza-bound ship says Israeli Navy threatened to intercept vessel; army says it did not issue such message, will continue to monitor ship's route as it approaches area

Israel threatened on Tuesday to send its Navy to intercept the Gaza-bound freighter chartered by Libya to aid the Gaddafi Foundation for Gaza, a representative of the group said Tuesday afternoon.


However, Israeli officials denied the report, saying they have not conveyed any such messages during an initial attempt to contact the vessel.


"The Israelis have contacted us and threatened to send their navy to intercept and escort the vessel to the port of Ashdod, if we do not change direction," Machallah Zwei told AFP by satellite phone.


The ship's captain was warned that it must change its course and head away from Gaza by midnight, or else it would be intercepted, he said.


Meanwhile, an Israeli official told AFP that the army is making preparation to stop the vessel by force if necessary. "The Navy has begun preparations to stop the ship if it tries to break the naval blockade," he said.


'We don't seek provocation'

At midday, the ship was 130 nautical miles (about 240 km) from the Gaza Strip and would dock Wednesday morning, said Zwei.


"We explained to the Israeli authorities that our original destination was Gaza and that we were not there to make provocation," he said. "We also explained that we were carrying food and medicine and asked them to let us unload our cargo to Gaza."


However, Navy officials said they have heard nothing from the Libyan vessel. The IDF said it attempted to make initial contact with the ship in order to check the quality of the line, without including any kind of messages for the captain.


The army said the vessel did not respond to the attempt to make contact. Navy officials will continue to monitor the course of the boat throughout the day to ensure it will not be heading to Gaza.



פרסום ראשון: 07.13.10, 15:46
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