Iran to send aid ship to Gaza

Israeli officials deeply worried; commandos train for confrontation.

June 22, 2010 19:55
1 minute read.
THE ‘MAVI Marmara’, as it set sail from Turkey. Be

Ship 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Iran said Tuesday it would send a blockade-busting ship carrying aid and pro-Palestinian activists to Gaza, fueling concern in Israel, where commandos were training for another possible confrontation at sea.

Iran's state television reported that the ship called "Infants of Gaza" would sail Sunday for the strip carrying 1,100 tons of relief supplies and 10 pro-Palestinian activists.

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Israel warned Iran to drop the plan. The Iranian announcement came days after Israel eased its three-year-old blockade of Gaza under international pressure following its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last month.

"No one in their right mind can believe that a ship sent by the ayatollahs and their Revolutionary Guards has anything to do with humanitarian aid," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. "I don't think there is one single country in this region and beyond that would let such an ayatollah ship come near its coasts."

Security officials said the prospect of an Iranian boat headed for Gaza had Israel deeply worried, and that naval commandos were training for the possibility of taking on a vessel with a suicide bomber on board. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose operational details.

Egyptian transportation official Mohammad Abdelwahab said Egypt would not prevent the Iranian ship from passing through the Suez Canal, a strategic passageway that connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea that Gaza borders.

"As long as the ship is not at war with Egypt and doesn't pollute the air, water or land, then it will be allowed to cross," Abdelwahab said.

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