(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.Israel last week
eased its ban on all but humanitarian goods for Gaza and said Sunday it
will now allow in everything except weapons or other items deemed to
have a military use.
"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
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Lebanon has given
permission for another flotilla to leave Tripoli for Gaza, according to a
Beirut minister quoted by an-Nahar Monday morning.
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
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
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
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told parliament's foreign affairs and
defense committee Monday that the easing of the blockade will make
things easier for civilians while tightening the blockade on weapons.
The Israeli military said it was ready to increase the transfer of food
and household items to Gaza by 30 percent, so that up to 140 trucks
filled with goods would be able to pass into Gaza daily. It said it
plans to meet with international agencies in the next few days to
discuss advancing other projects like the construction of schools,
hospitals and infrastructure works.
Lebanese voyage leader Samar Alhaj told an Arabic-language
Nazareth radio station that the women on board the
Julia were “the new secret weapon” in use against
Israel, which she termed the “thieving enemy."Tovah Lazaroff and Herb Keinon contributed
to this report.