Ship from previous flotilla
Photo: Avi Roccah

Cyprus bans Gaza-bound ship from its waters

Organizers of Lebanese ship carrying female activists say it will set sail Sunday despite warning

A Lebanese ship carrying aid and women activists who want to "break the blockade on Gaza" will set sail Sunday from Lebanon despite warnings that they will not be allowed to make it past Cyprus, organizers said Thursday.


The Cypriot ambassador to Lebanon told The Associated Press that the boat, the Miriam, will be turned back when it reaches Cyprus.


"We decided that such a ship will not be allowed to enter Cyprus and if such a Gaza-bound ship docks in a Cypriot port the crew and the passengers will be deported to their country of origin," Kyriacos Kouros said.


Kouros said Cyprus has a "moral and legal responsibility" to those allowed into its waters, and that a blockade-busting ship could endanger lives along with "regional peace and stability."


But organizer Samar al-Hajj was undeterred Thursday, and said ship, named after the Virgin Mary, will set out with between 50-75 female activists on a mission to deliver cancer medication, books and toys.


"We are not children who can be told to stay home," al-Hajj told The AP after a chaotic news conference outside the port in Tripoli, where security forces prevented the group from speaking to the media from the ship.


She could not say how much cargo the ship would carry, but said it would be a "symbolic" amount.


Al-Hajj said Lebanon's president, prime minister and parliament speaker did not respond to her requests to meet, which appeared to signal the government's lack of support for the venture.


The trip comes more than two months after Israeli naval commandos boarded a flotilla of Gaza-bound ships, killing nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists.


פרסום ראשון: 08.19.10, 17:48
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