Gaza bound Libyan aid ship ordered to divert course

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - 23:55

Jerusalem: Signalling forceful
interception in case of non-compliance, the Israeli Navy on Tuesday
confronted a Libyan aid ship?trying to breach Israel`s
three-year old blockade of Hamas ruled Gaza Strip and ordered
it to divert its course.

"The navy just began its process of trying to stop the
ship," an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson said
adding, "At this time the process of communicating with them
has begun."

Aboard the 92-meter vessel are a crew of 12 from
Haiti, India and Syria, under the command of a Cuban-born
captain, local media reports said.

Most of the activists on board are from Libya, except
for one Nigerian, one Algerian and one Moroccan, it added.

An Israeli Navy vessel warned the Moldovan-flagged
Greek registered al-Amal that it was entering a closed
military zone.

The al-Amal, carrying 15 pro-Palestinian activists and
12 crew members and 2,000 tons of food and medicine is
expected to arrive off the coast of Gaza by tomorrow morning.

The aid vessel, which left Greece on Saturday
afternoon, was commissioned by the Gadhafi International
Charity and Development Foundation, headed by Saif Al-Islam
Gadhafi, second son of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi.

"The ship`s captain was asked by the gunboat crew to
go to El-Arish port instead, stressing that the vessel will
not be allowed to go into Gaza at all," the foundation said in
a statement on its website.

"The captain and the head of the foundation`s team on
board affirmed that the ship`s sole destination is Gaza,
asserting that it is carrying humanitarian aid and has no
other purpose whatsoever, while the gunboat is still present
near the ship," the organisation added.

Meanwhile, Israeli military sources were quoted in the
local media as saying that they will not hesitate to
forcefully repel the efforts to break Gaza blockade despite
recent international hue and cry over Israel`s deadly raid on
another Gaza bound aid ship on May 31 in which nine
pro-Palestinian activists were killed.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry today advised the defence
establishment to wait until the ship approaches or enters the
coastal Strip`s territorial waters before making any attempt
to stop it, to avoid the risk of breaking international law.

Israel drew global criticism for its deadly raid
aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in which nine Turkish
activists were killed about a month ago.


First Published: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - 23:55

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