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Israel Warns Aid Ship Not to Sail to Gaza


There is drama on the high seas, as a humanitarian aid ship sails toward the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip.

The Israeli navy contacted a Libyan aid ship that plans to defy the blockade on Gaza and demanded that it sail to the nearby Egyptian port of El Arish. But the ship refused to change course, and naval commandos are prepared to intercept it.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak says the ship is an unnecessary provocation. "We cannot accept someone who will try to just sail directly to Gaza," he said. "I should tell everyone that we think it is a bit irresponsible to do that."

The ship, which was hired by a Libyan charity, is carrying 2,000 tons of food and medical supplies for the Palestinians. It sailed from Greece six weeks after Israeli commandos intercepted an aid flotilla trying to break the Gaza blockade. In the earlier incident, nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed, sparking international outrage.

Israel has since eased the land blockade on Gaza, and therefore, it says any aid to the Palestinians can be delivered legally through border crossings. The naval blockade remains in force to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules the Gaza Strip.

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