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(photo credit:Associated Press)
blockade-busting ship with activists and aid on board could be bound for
Gaza within a few days after Lebanese authorities granted permission
Monday for it to sail first to Cyprus.
"We have been granted permission to go to Cyprus and we are now in the
process of making final preparations," said Yasser Kashlak, a Syrian of
Palestinian origin who heads the group organizing the trip— the Free
Palestine Movement. Organizers said the ship plans to sail in the next
few days, but did not give an exact date for departure because of
security concerns.RELATED:Editorial: A floating symbol of failureHaifa Wehbe asks to join Gaza flotillaIsrael urges West against flotillasLebanon has given
permission for another flotilla to leave Tripoli for Gaza, according to a
Beirut minister quoted by an-Nahar Monday morning.
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Minister Ghazi Aridi said the ship named Julia is now docked at the
northern Lebanese port of Tripoli and can set sail once it is cleared by
port authorities there. He said the ship would be allowed to sail to
Cyprus and not directly to Gaza in order to abide by UN Security Council
Resolution 1701, which calls for a full cessation of hostilities by both
Lebanon and Israel and forbids any paramilitary activity south of the
Litani River.Aridi said the voyage of the ship,
Julia, would not violate the terms of the cease-fire
resolution. To clear the confusion over the latest Gaza flotilla
initiative, Aridi added that while the ship was named
Julia, the voyage itself was named
Mariam.He stressed that Lebanon’s government would take full responsibility
over the ship’s course, its cargo and the female activists – both
foreign and Lebanese – on board.
Israeli UN ambassador Gabriela Shalev warned Friday that the attempt by the organizers to sail from Lebanon and deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza could escalate tensions and affect peace and security in the region. She cited in particular the ships' departure from Lebanon which "remains in a state of hostility with Israel." She also cited "a possible link" between the organizers and the Shiite Muslim Hizbullah group.Netanyahu: Easing of blockade will make things easier for civilians
By ADAM RASGON
By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
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