'Libyan ship continues to el-Arish'

IDF confirms path; negotiations reportedly held with organizers.

July 14, 2010 10:58
2 minute read.
Workers load supplies on to a cargo ship at the La

greece aid to gaza 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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The IDF on Wednesday confirmed that a Libyan aid ship, the Amalthea, had solved its reported engine problem and was continuing towards Egypt's el-Arish port. 

According to the Arabic newspaper Asharq Alawsat, the diversion of the Libyan ship was brought about after negotiations which were held between Israeli authorities and the aid ship organizers.

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Speaking on Israel Radio Wednesday morning, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that calls by the US and the European Union to the ship's captain to accept Israel's diversion requests legitimizes Israel's policy.

The determination that Israel demonstrated towards the previous aid ship, Mavi Marmara, also contributed to effective policy, Ayalon commented.

According to Ayalon, Israel can consider itself victorious in its handling of the Libyan aid ship.

In response to the possibility of Egypt inspecting the Libyan vessel's cargo, the deputy foreign minister said that Israel and Egypt share a common interest in preventing the arming of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday, AFP reported that the US State Department had called on all parties "wishing to deliver goods [to the Gaza Strip] to do so through established channels so their cargo can be inspected by the government of Israel and transferred by land crossings in Gaza."

US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters that the US had "urged the Libyan government to avoid any unnecessary confrontation" and that Washington had  requested all parties act responsibly in meeting the needs of the people of Gaza.

Earlier Wednesday morning, the IDF reported that the ship had been delayed due to an engine failure.

On Tuesday morning, the Navy made initial radio contact with the ship and urged the captain to change his course and sail to el-Arish in Sinai. Navy missile ships were closely tracking the cargo ship, which on Tuesday evening was sailing about 6 knots an hour and was 120 km. from el-Arish and 145 km. from Gaza.

Twenty-one people are on the ship from a number of countries, including Libya, Haiti, Syria, Algeria, Nigeria and Cuba. The captain, a Cuban named Antonio, spoke by radio with one of the navy ships and said that contrary to claims by the Libyan organization behind the voyage, he planned to sail it to El-Arish.

The Navy said it did not have intelligence indicating that the ship was carrying weapons, but was suspicious and therefore would continue to track the ship until it was clear that it was sailing to Egypt. In addition to the ships at sea tracking the vessel, teams of commandos from the navy’s Flotilla 13 – known as the Shayetet – were put on standby in case they needed to seize the ship to prevent it from reaching Gaza.

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