News / Middle East

Israel Warns Aid Ship Not to Sail to Gaza

ship sailed from Greece six weeks after Israeli commandos intercepted an international aid flotilla trying to break the three-year-old Gaza blockade

Robert Berger

More than a month after Israel's deadly flotilla raid, another aid ship is sailing toward the blockaded Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip.  

Israel has warned a ship carrying Libyan aid to Gaza not to defy the naval blockade on the territory.  The ship sailed from Greece six weeks after Israeli commandos intercepted an international aid flotilla trying to break the three-year-old Gaza blockade.  Nine activists were killed, sparking international outrage.

Israeli Cabinet Minister Daniel Hershkowitz said Israel has not changed its policy and its policy is very clear.  

"No ships will be allowed to arrive at Gaza," Hershkowitz said.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Hershkowitz said there are legal ways to help the Palestinians.

"If they want to transfer the humanitarian equipment there to the people in Gaza they are welcome to do it through Ashdod," Hershkowitz said.

Ashdod is an Israeli port near Gaza.  Egypt has also offered to receive the ship at the nearby port of El Arish, and there were early reports that the vessel was headed there.  But the Libyan charity that hired the ship denies that.

Ayash Daraji, a reporter for the pan-Arab TV station al-Jazeera, is on board the ship

He says the captain told him unequivocally the ship is sailing to Gaza.

Israel says the naval blockade is necessary to prevent weapons from reaching the Palestinian militant group Hamas that rules Gaza.  Israeli officials describe the latest attempt to break the blockade as an unnecessary provocation.

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