(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Mariam, a Lebanese vessel carrying women and journalists with an intended destination of Gaza has postponed its planned journey after Cyprus refused its request to pass through their waters, Army Radio reported on Saturday. The organizers issued a request to Greek authorities in an attempt to circumvent the restrictions.
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Under Lebanese law the ship cannot travel
directly to the Gaza Strip from Lebanon because Beirut is technically at war
with Israel, forcing the vessel to pass through a third country before heading for the blockaded Palestinian territory.
UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev said in letters Friday to the secretary-general and Security Council that Israel reserves the right under international law "to use all necessary means" to prevent the ship from sailing to Gaza to violate the naval blockade.
Shalev said a group of individuals "with suspected ties to the Hezbollah terrorist organization" announced that the vessel Miriam would depart from Tripoli on Sunday en route to Gaza.
ambassador to Lebanon said that the vessel, the Mariam
, would not be allowed to
enter a Cypriot port.
“We decided that such a ship will not be allowed to
enter Cyprus, and if such a Gazabound ship docks in a Cypriot port the
the passengers will be deported to their country of origin,” Kyriacos
Kouros said Cyprus has a “moral and legal responsibility” to those
allowed into its waters, and that a blockade-busting ship could endanger
and “regional peace and stability.”
But Samar al-Hajj, the
organizer of the Mariam
has been threatening to dispatch it for Gaza since
early June, was undeterred on Thursday. She said the ship would set out
deliver cancer medication, books and toys.
“We are not children who can
be told to stay home,” Hajj said after a chaotic news conference outside
port in Tripoli, where security forces prevented the group from speaking
media from the ship.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Jerusalem said the
so-called “humanitarian” nature of the boat was belied by the
of coordination with either the UN or the Palestinian Authority.
spokesman said that Israel would stop the vessel from reaching Gaza, and
“prepared for all possibilities.”
IDF sources said that the navy would
intercept the ship if it attempted to reach Gaza, and would operate
assumption that hostile elements could be aboard.Yaakov Katz and AP
contributed to this report.