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Palestinian MK: Libya boat en route to Gaza

July 11, 2010 10:28 A.M. (Updated: July 13, 2010 9:11 A.M.)
Jerusalem – Ma'an – Palestinian-Israeli Knesset member Ahmad Tibi said Sunday that a Gaza-bound aid boat sponsored by a Libyan charity would not dock at the Egyptian port of Al-Arish.

The Hope, organized by the Tripoli-based Gaddafi International Charity and Development Association, aims to relay a humanitarian and political message, Tibi said, which is that “the land and sea siege on Gaza can’t continue.”

Tibi said the Libyan charity, chaired by Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the second son of the Libyan leader, did not intend for the boat to be a "provocation."

He added that organizers said no violence would be encountered, even if participants are detained or diverted to the Ashdod port.

The Palestinian-Israeli lawmaker further suggested that Israel allow the Libyan boat to continue its journey to Gaza after inspecting it at Ashdod.

On 31 May, a six-vessel fleet of aid boats destined for Gaza was raided by Israeli forces in international waters, killing nine on board. The boats were then diverted to Ashdod where its participants, who included several MPs from Europe and the Middle East, were detained and later deported.

On Friday, Agence France-Presse reported that The Hope was due to set sail from Greece to Gaza, "loaded with about 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid in the form of foodstuff and medications."

The ship will also carry "a number of supporters who are keen on expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people in the plight amidst the siege imposed on Gaza," the organization added in a statement.

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the Greek Foreign Ministry said the ship was headed for the Egyptian port and not Gaza, saying the matter had been verified with the Libyan ambassador in Athens and a shipping representative. The daily reported that the Greek shipping agent confirmed Saturday that official ship documents show the vessel's destination as Al-Arish.

In an attempt to garner international support to halt the vessel's arrival in Gaza, Israel has approached several countries and the UN, even reportedly sending messages to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his son through a third party.

Sources at the Israeli Foreign Ministry told Haaretz that an agreement has been reached with both Moldova and Greece that the ship will proceed to the Egyptian port.

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